Asthma is a chronic lung disease that can be life threatening. It causes inflammation in the air passages in the lungs that leads to temporary narrowing the airways that transport air from the nose and mouth to the lungs.
There are three reasons why the airways narrow:
- The lining inside the airways becomes red and swollen
- The airways make extra mucus
- The muscles around the airways tighten
Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Getting your asthma or your child's asthma under control means being able to lead a full life without asthma getting in the way.
Health Facts for You
- What is Asthma?
- Asthma Controller Medicine Inhaled Corticosteroid and Long Acting Bronchodilator
- Asthma Rescue Medicine
- Adult and Pediatric Asthma Treatment Plan
Why do people get asthma?
No one knows for sure why people get asthma, but asthma, eczema or hay fever often run in families. Smoking, while pregnant, increases the risk of a child developing asthma. Children who live in homes where people smoke are also at an increased risk of developing asthma.
Anything that makes asthma worse is called a trigger. Triggers for one person can be different for another person:
- Colds and flu
- Cigarette smoke
- Changes in temperature and weather
- Chemicals and strong smells
- Certain medicines
Signs of Asthma
The main symptoms of asthma are:
- Shortness of breath (working harder to breath)
- Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound)
- Tightness in the chest
Some people experience all these symptoms while others may only experience some. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned that you or your child may have asthma.
- Quick relief medication (rescue medication): Taken as needed for rapid, short-term relief of symptoms and used to prevent or treat an asthma attack. Types of this medication include short-acting beta 2-agonists like albuterol.
- Long-term asthma control medication: Taken regularly to control chronic symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. Types of medication include long-acting beta 2-agonists like the Serevent diskus, inhaled corticosteroids like Flovent, Pulmicort and Qvar and Leukotriene modifiers like Singulair.
- Asthma Action Plan: A guide to help manage your asthma
- Peak Flow Meter: Portable, hand-held device used to measure your ability to push air out of your lungs
- Spacer: Tube designed to maximize the amount of medicine from an inhaler that gets into your lungs
- Nebulizer: A machine used to give medicine in the form
- One in 15 Americans suffer from asthma.
- Asthma accounts for about two million emergency room visits in the U.S. every year.
- Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children.
- 44 percent of all asthma hospitalizations are for children.
- There are more than 4,000 deaths due to asthma every year, many of which are avoidable with proper treatment.