What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that can be life threatening if not treated and controlled well. The basic cause of asthma is unknown, but some things, called triggers, make asthma worse.

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Asthma affects your respiratory
system, which includes parts
like your nose, mouth, windpipe
and lungs.

 

 

Your lungs are not just two big
balloons that fill up with air
when you breathe. They are made
of tiny airways - most of which are
hard to see without a microscope.

During an asthma flare-up, three
things happen in the airways
inside your lungs:


1. The lining, or the walls, of the
airways become swollen.


2. Mucus is made, which can plug
the airways, making it hard to
breathe.


3. Muscles around the airways
tighten, making the airways
smaller.

   

Asthma flare-ups can be avoided and controlled by:
• Responding to symptoms.
• Working with your doctor and taking the right medications.
• Avoiding triggers.



Asthma does not go away when your symptoms go away! If you have asthma, you need to keep taking care of it, even when you’re feeling good.


With your doctor’s help, you can control your asthma and become symptom free most of the time. Control can mean a better quality of life..

Goals for asthma management
If you are taking your medicines correctly, avoiding asthma triggers and working with your medical team, you should be able to reach these goals:
• No asthma symptoms during day or night, including coughing and sleepimg through the night.
• Best possible lung function.
• No missed school or work.
• No hospital or emergency room visits for asthma.
• Few side effects from medicines.
• Satisfied with asthma care.

Asthma Symptoms
Asthma symptoms can happen quickly or over several days. Your asthma does not go away when your symptoms go away. Generally, asthma symptoms progress through three stages. It usually takes 3 to 5 days for people with asthma to go from feeling no asthma through all of the stages to where they need emergency help. That means, we usually have 3 to 5 days of warning that asthma is getting worse.

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First stage: Early warning

Early warning signs are the very first symptoms you will feel as your asthma starts to flare up:


• Coughing is the number 1 sign!
• Feeling tired.
• Not sleeping through the night.
• Stomach ache.
• Moodiness.
• Itchy chin or neck.
• Sneezing.
• Watery eyes.
• Cold symptoms.
• Dark circles under the eyes.
• Symptoms with exercise.

Do not wait! Take your quick relief medicine and follow your asthma care plan.

Always take asthma medicine when you notice these symptomes. After taking the asthma medicine, you can then take cold or allergy medicine.

 

Second stage: Asthma attack

Asthma attack symptoms include:


• Coughing.
• Wheezing.
• Shortness of breath.
• Chest tightness.

Do not wait! Take your quick relief medicine and follow your asthma care plan.

 

Most people wait until this stage before taking asthma medicine. The best time to treat asthma symptoms is right when they start, during the early warning signs. Often, if medicine is taken during the early warning signs, the asthma won’t get to the attack stage!

Third stage: Emergency


Emergency symptoms include:


• You still have emergency symptoms 20 minutes after taking a quick relief medicine.

• Nose opens wider.
• Trouble walking.
• Trouble talking.
• Extreme difficulty breathing.
• Lips or fingernails are pale blue or gray in color.
• Uncontrolled cough.
• Shortness of breath at rest.
• Retractions (skin sinking in between ribs).

 
 
   

 

Call 911! Take quick relief medicine and follow your asthma care plan.

The best time to treat asthma symptoms is right when they start, during the early warning
signs. Often, if medicine is taken during the early warning signs, the asthma won’t get to the
asthma attack stage or to the emergency stage!

 
CAUTION: Sometimes people who have mild asthma can have severe, life-threatening asthma attacks.