What Is Asthma?

Asthma affects one person in every five households and can be recognised in children and adults by the wheezing sound that can be heard when they breathe. Asthma affects the small airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. When the airways of a person with asthma are irritated they narrow, the muscles around them tighten and there may be an increase in production of sticky mucus or phlegm. This makes it hard to get enough breath and causes wheezing, coughing and their chest may feel tight.

What Causes Asthma?

Asthma has many different causes. You may have over-sensitive airways, a family history of asthma or you may be allergic to one or more asthma triggers. Some of the most common causes of asthma are allergies to house dust mites, mould spores, pollen, pets and certain foods.

What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma?

The main symptoms of asthma are:

  • Feeling breathless (you may gasp for breath);
  • Your chest may feel tight (like a band tightening around your chest);
  • Wheezing;
  • Coughing (especially at night)

Symptoms are likely to vary from day-to-day and are often worse during the night and with exercise. If you are experiencing symptoms you should speak to your doctor or a pharmacist for further advice.

What Treatments Are Available?

There are two main treatments for asthma: preventers and relievers. These come in a variety of delivery devices called inhalers, enabling you to breathe the medicine in through your mouth, directly into your lungs. If the asthma is still not fully controlled, other medicines may be added on to the reliever and preventer medicines.