Asthma is a condition in which a person’s airways – the tubes through which air travels to and from the lungs – become periodically inflamed. The inflammation causes the tubes to narrow, restricting the amount of air that can be inhaled. Asthma sufferers exhibit symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Asthma can have mild to serious – even life-threatening – effects. During an asthma attack, a person cannot inhale the proper amount of air and cannot breathe normally. The degree to which air is restricted and the length of the attacks determine the severity of the illness. Also, some people with asthma have, besides these acute attacks, permanent respiratory problems that may restrict their daily activities.
Attacks can be triggered by allergens, such as animal dander, chemicals, environmental pollution, or smoke. Treatment should begin by identifying and removing, if possible, any applicable triggers. On the other hand, asthma attacks can also be caused by adrenal disorders, anxiety, changes in temperature, exercise, stress, and other unavoidable factors. When the triggers cannot be removed, treatment usually consists of controlling and monitoring the attacks. The doctor will be able to help the asthma patient prepare for attacks as well as identify when an asthma attack is coming. They can often prevent the more serious symptoms.