Asthma Home > What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a recurring health condition that affects your body's ability to move air in and out of your lungs. Triggers are anything that cause irritation to the airways, such as pollen, smoke, or dust. Symptoms of this condition include wheezing and difficulty breathing. Anyone with possible symptoms should see their doctor. The condition can be well controlled with medications.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic health condition that affects the airways that move air in and out of your lungs. Normally, these airways are open and clear, allowing oxygen to easily get to your lungs. Individuals with asthma have very sensitive airways that are affected by certain triggers.

What Triggers an Attack?

A trigger is anything that causes irritation to the airways, such as:
  • Cold air
  • Exercise
  • Dust mites
  • Smoke
  • Pollen
  • Catching a cold.
In a person with asthma, triggers will cause the airway to respond in two ways: swelling and mucus production. When the airways swell up, they become narrow and breathing is difficult. The extra mucus clogs the airways, causing further difficulty with breathing.

Possible Symptoms

Some symptoms of asthma include:
  • Cough
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mucus production.
When a person has an asthma attack, the symptoms get worse and may also include anxiety (due to the difficulty breathing), use of the neck and chest muscles to breathe, and difficulty speaking.
Warnings signs that an attack is very severe include:
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • A bluish color to the skin (called cyanosis).
These warning signs suggest that a person is not getting enough oxygen to the lungs. In this case, seek medical assistance immediately.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation

Topics & Medications


Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2019 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.