Asthma Home > Asthma Questions

Many people -- especially those with asthma -- have asthma questions; for example, "Is asthma contagious?" or "Are the medicines addictive?" This article provides answers to some of the more frequently asked asthma questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Asthma: An Introduction

It is estimated that 15 million Amercians have asthma, a chronic health condition in which a person's airways are inflamed, making it difficult to carry air in and out of the lungs.


People often have questions about asthma. Below are some of the more common questions people have about asthma. The questions are organized by category.


General Asthma Questions

Is asthma contagious?
No, asthma is not a contagious disease -- no one can "catch" it from you.
What are the most common causes of asthma attacks?
Allergies to things like dust mites or pet dander, infections like colds and flu, and irritants like smoke or breathing cold air may trigger asthma symptoms. Many people have asthma after certain physical activities, like running or playing hard. Things that trigger one person's asthma may not trigger an asthma attack in another person.
What can I do if exercise triggers my asthma symptoms?
Talk to your doctor about how to prevent asthma caused by exercise. Many people take medication before exercising to avoid asthma symptoms. You can also learn how to pace yourself if you seem to be having symptoms. If your asthma is under control, you should be able to take part in any activity you choose. Many Olympic athletes have asthma.
What is a peak flow meter?
A peak flow meter is a device you can easily use at home to check how open your airways are. It can help you keep track of how well your asthma is controlled. You use it by taking a deep breath and blowing hard into a plastic piece that goes in your mouth. Then, write down the resulting number that appears on the meter. Peak flow meters are especially helpful for people with moderate or severe asthma. Your doctor may ask you to use a peak flow meter regularly and keep track of the numbers.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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