Asthma is a disease affecting the airways that carry air to and from your lungs. The inside walls of an asthmatic’s airways are swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your susceptibility to an allergic reaction. As inflammation causes the airways to become narrower, less air can pass through them, both to and from the lungs.
Common symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma has no cure. However, with good treatment and management there is no reason why a person with asthma cannot live a normal and active life.
Causes & Prevention
Possible causes include:
- An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy
- Parents who have asthma
- Certain respiratory infections during childhood
- Contact with some airborne allergens or exposure to some viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing
If asthma or atopy runs in the family, exposure to irritants (for example, tobacco smoke) might make your airways more reactive to substances in the air. Some factors might be more likely to cause asthma in certain people than in others.