Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something (like allergens) triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs.
The shortness of breath is due to a narrowing of the airways in the lungs and to excess mucus production and inflammation. Asthma can be disabling and sometimes fatal. If wheezing and shortness of breath accompany allergy symptoms, it is a signal that the airways also have become involved.
Asthma cannot be cured, but most people with asthma can control it so that they have few and infrequent symptoms and can live active lives. Asthma attacks are not all the same—some are worse than others. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. This condition is a medical emergency. People can die from severe asthma attacks.
Taking care of your asthma is an important part of your life. Controlling it means working closely with your doctor to learn what to do, staying away from things that bother your airways, taking medicines as directed by your doctor, and monitoring your asthma so that you can respond quickly to signs of an attack. By controlling your asthma every day, you can prevent serious symptoms and take part in all activities.
If your asthma is not well controlled, you are likely to have symptoms that can make you miss school or work and keep you from doing things you enjoy. Asthma is one of the leading causes of children missing school. Control your asthma by being a knowledgeable patient, avoiding asthma triggers, and taking you medications as prescribed!