What Is Asthma?


Asthma is an inflammatory condition of varying severity that causes hyperreactivity of the bronchial airways. Patients experience episodes of bronchospasm, swelling of the bronchial tissues, and increased mucus, causing airway narrowing and plugging. Symptoms typically include variable amounts of cough, wheeze, difficulty breathing, inability to exercise, or inability to sleep through the night. There is a tendency for asthma to be inherited. A strong association with allergy is common in children and young adults with asthma, but only about 50% of all adults with asthma are allergic. Fortunately, with goal-oriented medical treatment and patient education emphasizing asthma prevention, the majority of patients can lead normal lives.