What is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs, making it hard to breathe. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled. When you have asthma, the airways in your lungs are very sensitive. They may react to things that don't bother people who don't have asthma.
No one knows for sure why this happens. Asthma also tends to run in families.

What is an asthma episode or attack?

When your asthma symptoms flare up it is called an asthma episode or attack. Episodes occur when something bothers your lungs.

Here is what happens:

  • The lining of your airways start to swell.
  • Your airways fill with thick, sticky mucus.
  • The air has trouble getting into your lungs.
  • You may cough, wheeze and feel short of breath.

Learn to control your asthma

You can help control your asthma by:

  • Learning what your "asthma triggers" are.
  • Making regular visits to your doctor to check your asthma control.
  • Knowing what medications you are using for asthma and how they work.
  • Discussing your symptoms with your doctor even if you don't think they are related to asthma.
  • Asking questions. Be sure you understand what to do to control your asthma.

Uncontrolled asthma can lead to:
  • Severe, life threatening attacks that require emergency medical care.
  • Missed work or school days.
  • Having limits on daily activities.

Remember: People with asthma can lead normal and active lives if they learn to control their asthma.