Asthma is a respiratory condition that inflames, narrows and causes spasms in the airways. It results in problems with breathing.
Asthma is a serious health problem. It does not go away and there is no cure. This is why it is important to control it with proper treatment.
Symptoms of Asthma include the following:
The feeling of not being able to breathe fully
Feeling like a strap is tight around the chest area
Whistling sound when breathing out
Lasting more than a week, consistent, mostly at night
Why be concerned about asthma?
Asthma leads to long-lasting problems without proper treatment:
Air travels in and out of the lungs through airways. With asthma, the airways become very sensitive and swollen. This causes extra mucus. The muscles around the airways also tighten. All this makes it hard to breathe. When this happens it is called a flare up or an attack. A reliever drug helps to control an attack. If a reliever does not work fast enough it may be necessary to go to the emergency room.
Poorly controlled and untreated asthma leads to airway remodeling. Constant extra mucus inside the airways can cause the airway tissue to thicken and scar. This process makes it harder to breathe and harder to recover from attacks. Use a controller drug to control the infection and mucus buildup and prevent airway remodeling.
Control asthma with proper drug use. There are two kinds of asthma drugs. Not everyone needs both types of drugs. Check with your doctor about drugs for your asthma. If you have drugs, it is important not to mix them up, because they do different things in the body.
Controllers help to keep the airways from becoming sensitive and reduce the chance of an attack. They fight the infection and mucus. Use a controller regularly, even when you feel well. A controller helps to keep you feeling well.
Even when taking a controller, there may be times when you have an attack. Once an attack begins, a reliever or rescue drug is needed. Relievers may also be used to prevent attacks. Relievers can prevent an attack caused by exercise or active play when taken as prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor will explain about the asthma drugs. The Alliance has other sources of information for you too.
Know Asthma Triggers
Triggers in your environment can cause asthma to worsen and even an attack. Most can be controlled. Some common triggers for asthma are:
Irritants: Smoke, Paints, Cleaning and Scented Products
If you smoke, quit. If others smoke around you, for your health you may need to remove yourself from the area. You may also ask others to smoke outside and not in the car.
Avoid being around strong smelling cleansers and paints.
Avoid using scented products such as perfume, deodorant, lotions, hairspray, and room deodorizers.
Your doctor may prescribe your reliever for exercise-induced asthma. Other tips: warm up before exercise and breathe though your nose as much as possible.
Colds, Flu and Sore throat: Get a flu shot, keep your body healthy with enough exercise and sleep, and wash your hands frequently.
Stay indoors during pollen season and avoid using electric fans.
Let fresh air into your house to keep it dry. Wash mold regularly using equal parts vinegar and water with a 2 spoonfuls of baking soda; apply mixture to mold, let set for several minutes, scrub and rinse.
Keep pets out of your bedroom and wash your hands after playing with and petting your pet.
Discuss food allergies with your doctor.
When it is cold, breathe through your nose and cover it with a scarf. On bad pollution days, try to stay indoors and close the windows. Avoid outside exercise.
Anger, Fear, Laughter, and Stress: Keep calm by breathing slowly (belly breathing) and relax your shoulders and neck muscles.
The Alliance has resources for the control of asthma:
- In-home visits
- Personal education
- DVDs on how to take care of asthma
- Books, pamphlet, flyers
- Adult Asthma
- Asthma Attacks
- Asthma Team
- Asthma Triggers
- How to use a Diskus
- Inhaled Steroids
- Smoking and Asthma
- Spacers and MDIs
- Your Child and Asthma
All publications in English on asthma
All publications in Spanish on asthma
All publications in Chinese on asthma
All publications in Vietnamese on asthma
Contact us for more information.
(510) 747-4567 or 1-877-371-2222
CRS 711 / TTY 1-800-735-2929
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
National Health Information Center (Health Finder) http://www.healthfinder.gov/ and click on “A” and select “Asthma.”