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, most patients can lead normal lives.

Signs/symptoms of asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs marked by wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and/or shortness of breath. Millions of Americans report having asthma or asthma related symptoms. Common signs of asthma may include excessive coughing while exercising or following exercise, shortness of breath, wheezing while breathing, colds that tend to go to the chest, or a tight feeling in the chest. These symptoms may make it difficult and sometimes impossible to breathe.

It is important for you to consult an allergist and uncover the causes of your symptoms. Research shows that early treatment of allergies reduces the development of asthma in children by 50%! It is important to see an allergist when you first start experiencing problems.

Triggers of asthma

There are multiple triggers of asthma. Allergens, irritants, respiratory infections or exercise can trigger asthma symptoms. In treating any type of asthma, it is vital to identify what your “triggers” are because swelling in the airway can still be there even when you are not experiencing symptoms.

The following are types of asthma and their triggers:
Seasonal asthma: Characterized by allergic reactions to trees, grasses or weeds. Non-allergic asthma: Triggered by irritants in the air that you breathe such as tobacco smoke, wood smoke, room deodorizers, fresh paint, perfume, etc. Allergic asthma: Characterized by allergic reactions to allergens such as dust mite, dust or pet dander, or pollen. Exercise-induced asthma: physical activity or exercise. Nocturnal asthma: symptoms increase or are worse at night.