Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out and shortness of breath.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. Asthma can't be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled.
- Breathing becomes more difficult. Some people with severe asthma may have breathing problems most of the time.
- wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
- a tight chest
- it may feel like a band is tightening around it and coughing
- seem to happen in response to an asthma trigger like exercise or an allergy (such as to pollen or animal fur)
Who is at high risk of Asthma attack
- Having a blood relative with asthma, such as a parent or sibling
- Having another allergic condition:
such as atopic dermatitis — which causes red, itchy skin
hay fever — which causes a runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes
- Being overweight
- Being a smoker
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution
- Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing
Ways to manage life with Asthma
Get regular exercise.
- Having asthma doesn't mean you have to be less active. Treatment can prevent asthma attacks and control symptoms during activity. Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and lungs, which helps relieve asthma symptoms. If you exercise in cold temperatures, wear a face mask to warm the air you breathe.
Maintain a healthy weight.
- Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts you at higher risk of other health problems.
Control heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- It's possible that the acid reflux that causes heartburn may damage lung airways and worsen asthma symptoms. If you have frequent or constant heartburn, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You may need treatment for GERD before your asthma symptoms improve.
Maintain optimal humidity.
- If you live in a damp climate, use a humidifier. Prevent mold spores.
- Clean damp areas in the bathroom, kitchen and around the house to keep mold spores from developing. Get rid of moldy leaves or damp firewood in the yard.
Reduce pet dander.
- If you're allergic to dander, avoid pets with fur or feathers. Having pets regularly bathed or groomed may also reduce the amount of dander in your surroundings.
- Clean your home at least once a week. If you're likely to stir up dust, wear a mask or have someone else do the cleaning. Wash your bedding regularly.