Asthma also called bronchial asthma is a lung disease in which a person experiences narrowed and swollen airways. This condition can lead to breathing problems and other health problems. However, with treatment, you can treat this condition.

What is Asthma?

This is a chronic condition that impacts your lungs. Mostly, it does not go away on its own and requires treatment. Approximately 25 million people suffer from asthma in the U.S. About 5 million people from this total are children. Moreover, this condition can be life-threatening if a person does not receive treatment quickly.

Asthma Attack

In normal circumstances, when a person breathes, the muscles near the airways are relaxed and air can move easily. In case you experience an asthma attack the following things occur. Examples include:

  • Bronchospasm – When a person experiences a bronchospasm, the airways are narrowed, which restricts the airflow.
  • Inflammation – The airways become swollen thus, the air cannot move in or out of the lungs.
  • Mucus production – During an asthma attack, an increased mucus production occurs. As a result, the airways are clogged.

You may notice a sound (wheezing) when your airways become tighter and you breathe.

Asthma Types

Experts divided this condition into two categories based on the severity and symptoms. Examples include:

  • Intermittent – This asthma type commonly comes and goes, which makes you feel normal between asthma flares.
  • Persistent – In such cases, a person experiences symptoms for a longer time and they can be mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of this condition is based on how often you experience symptoms.

This lung disease can happen due to different causes. For example:

  • Non-allergic causes include outside factors (such as exercise, stress, health conditions, weather, and others)
  • Allergic causes include allergies that provoke asthma attacks. Molds, pollens, and pet dander are some examples of allergens.

Check below how this lung disease can also be:

  • Pediatric – This asthma type is also known as childhood asthma and starts before 5 years old but can also appear in infants and toddlers. While children can outgrow this condition, it is recommended to talk with your healthcare professional.
  • Adult – In such cases, this lung condition starts in people over 18 years old.

Furthermore, check below some additional asthma types:

  • Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) – ACOS happens when an individual experiences both conditions asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Occupational asthma – Mostly, this asthma type happens in people who work around specific substances.
  • Exercise-induced asthma – This condition is also called exercise-induced bronchospasm and it is caused by exercise.

Who Can Get This Lung Disease?

Anyone can get this disease, especially people with allergies or those who are exposed to tobacco smoke. It also includes secondhand smoke. As per studies, females and back people tend to have asthma more than others.


The symptoms of this condition are very similar to other respiratory diseases. Check below some examples:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough (especially during nighttime)
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

When an asthma attack occurs, you may not have all the symptoms listed above.


At this time, healthcare providers do not know exactly why some people experience this lung disease and others do not. In any case, check below some risk factors:

  • Allergies – You are at higher risk of developing asthma if you are allergic.
  • Environmental Factors – There are some substances that could irritate the airways and contribute to or even cause asthma. For example allergens, toxins, fumes, second or thirst-hand smoke.
  • Genetics – A family history of allergic health conditions and asthma also can increase your risk of developing this lung disease.
  • Respiratory Infections – People who are suffering from respiratory infections (including respiratory syncytial virus or RSV) can damage your lungs, especially in children.

Common Asthma Attack Triggers

An asthma attack can happen if you are in contact with certain substances that irritate your airways. Physicians call these substances β€œtriggers”. The triggers cannot be the same for everyone. Check some common triggers below:

  • Dust mites
  • Air pollution
  • Exercise
  • Mold
  • Pests
  • Pets
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Strong chemicals or smells
  • Some occupational exposures


Doctors often review your medical history before diagnosing asthma. They can also ask some questions about your symptoms and family history. Additionally, physicians may order spirometry, a chest X-ray, a blood test, or a skin test. A spirometry is a test that measures airflow that passes through your lungs.


Do not ignore this condition and visit a doctor for treatment. The following options can help you to manage your asthma symptoms. For example:

  • Biologic therapies for asthma – Mostly, these therapies are used in people with severe asthma.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications – Doctors prescribe these drugs to reduce swelling and mucus in the airways. Thus, you will be able to breathe easier.
  • Bronchodilators – This medication type helps to relax the muscles near your airways. Moreover, they also can decrease mucus production.

Medicines listed above can be taken in different ways including metered-dose inhalers, nebulizers, or other asthma inhalers. However, physicians can prescribe oral medicines (pills that you swallow).


It is possible to prevent this condition by identifying and avoiding the triggers. Consult with your doctor for more details.

Severe Asthma Attack

In case you are experiencing a severe asthma attack, it is recommended to get medical care right away. First, you should use your rescue inhaler that contains fast-acting medicines to open your airways. In case you do not have a rescue inhaler or you do not notice any improvements even after using it, you might notice the following symptoms. If any of the following cases occur, go to the emergency room (ER). For example:

  • Panic or anxiety
  • Difficulty talking
  • Cough
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Bluish fingernails, lips, or tongue
  • Pale or sweaty face
  • Rapid or very fast breathing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can asthma be cured?

Unfortunately, there is no way to cure this lung disease. However, children can overgrow asthma as they get older but it is advised to talk with a doctor and make sure your children do not need any medicines.

What should I know about COVID-19 and asthma?

In case you have asthma and leave it untreated and get COVID-19 you may get hospitalized. Therefore, you should wear a mask, especially when going to indoor spaces, and get vaccinated. If you have any additional questions, ask your healthcare professional.

What causes asthma to develop?

There are multiple causes that can lead to asthma. For example indoor allergens (such as dust mites, mold, dander, or fur), outdoor allergens (including pollens), emotional stress, physical activity, and others. Consult with your physician for more details.

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