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What is Asthma? 

Asthma is a condition in which your airways become narrow and swollen and may produce more mucus. This can make breathing difficult and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

It cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Because the problem often changes over time, it’s important to work with your doctor to monitor your signs and symptoms and adjust your treatment as needed. (Source)

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Signs and symptoms of asthma include:

  1. Stuffiness.
  2. Chest pressure or pain.
  3. Wheezing when exhaling, is a common symptom in children.
  4. Coughing or wheezing attacks that are made worse by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or flu.

Signs that your asthma may be getting worse include increasing difficulty breathing, measured by a device used to check how well your lungs are working peak flow meter, and the need to use the quick-relief inhaler more often.



For some people, the signs and symptoms flare up in certain situations like

  • exercise-induced asthma that can become worse when the air is cold and dry or
  • allergy-induced asthma triggered by airborne substances such as pollen, mold spores, cockroach droppings, or particles of skin and dried saliva released by pets.


Treating this lung condition early can prevent long-term lung damage and help keep the condition from getting worse over time. To monitor your asthma after diagnosis. If you know you have asthma, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Good long-term control will help you feel better every day and can prevent a life-threatening asthma attack.

Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Work with your doctor to find out what to do when your signs and symptoms get worse — and when you need emergency treatment. Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can be prescribed. 

Symptoms of acute asthma include:

  1. Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
  2. No improvement even after using a rapid inhaler
  3. Shortness of breath with minimal physical activity

If you have a frequent cough or wheezing that lasts for more than a few days or any other signs or symptoms of asthma, see your doctor. 

If your symptoms get worse, contact your doctor immediately if your medication does not seem to be helping your symptoms or if you need to use your quick-relief inhaler more often.

Do not take more medication than prescribed without first consulting your doctor. Taking too much medication can cause side effects and make your asthma worse.

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It is not clear why some people develop asthma and others do not, but it is likely to be due to a combination of environmental and inherited, genetic factors.

Asthma triggers

Exposure to various irritants and substances that trigger allergies can trigger the signs and symptoms of asthma. The triggers vary from person to person and may include:

  1. Airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, or cockroach waste particles. 
  2. Respiratory infections such as the common cold
  3. Physical activity or cold air
  4. Air pollutants and irritants such as smoke

Risk factors: 

A number of factors are thought to increase your chances of developing asthma. They contain:

  1. Having a blood relative with asthma, such as a parent or sibling
  2. You have another allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis – which causes red, itchy skin – or hay fever – which causes runny, bloodshot, and itchy eyes
  3. Being overweight
  4. Being a smoker
  5. Exposure to occupational triggers such as chemicals used in agriculture, hairdressing, and manufacturing. 


Although there is no way to prevent asthma, you and your doctor can design a step-by-step plan to live with your condition and prevent asthma attacks.

  1. Follow your action plan. Create a detailed plan for taking your medications and managing your attack with your doctor and healthcare team. Be sure to stick to your plan.
  1. Get vaccinated against flu and pneumonia. Staying up-to-date with vaccinations can prevent the flu and pneumonia from triggering a flare-up.
  1. Identify your triggers and avoid them. This can be pets, pollens, or even dust. 

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