Asthma is a long-term condition that affects your breathing. It causes the airways that lead to the lungs to swell.
People with asthma may have asthma attacks. During an asthma attack, the airways tighten and become narrower. This makes it hard to breathe, and you may wheeze or cough. If you have a bad asthma attack, you may need emergency care.
Asthma affects people in different ways. Some people only have asthma attacks during allergy season, or when they breathe in cold air, or when they exercise. Others have many bad attacks that send them to the doctor often.
Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe. You may have mild attacks now and then, you may have severe symptoms every day, or you may have something in between. How often you have symptoms can also change. When you have asthma, you may:
Your symptoms may be worse at night.
Certain things can make asthma symptoms worse. These are called triggers. When you are around a trigger, an asthma attack is more likely.
Common triggers include:
Here are some ways to avoid a few common triggers:
There are two parts to treating asthma, which are outlined in your asthma action plan. The goals are to:
The asthma plan also helps you track your symptoms and know how well the treatment is working.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
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