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Health Issues

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Asthma

Overview and Facts

Asthma occurs when the airways in your lungs (bronchial tubes) become inflamed and constricted. The muscles of the bronchial walls tighten, and your airways produce extra mucus that blocks your airways. Signs and symptoms of asthma range from minor wheezing to life-threatening asthma attacks.

Asthma can't be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Management includes avoiding asthma triggers and tracking your symptoms. You may need to regularly take long-term control medications to prevent flare-ups and short-term "rescue" medications to control symptoms once they start. Asthma that isn't under control can cause missed school and work or reduced productivity due to symptoms. Because in most people asthma changes over time, you'll need to work closely with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms and adjust your treatment as needed.

Asthma is common, affecting millions of adults and children. A growing number of people are diagnosed with the condition each year, but it isn't clear why. A number of factors are thought to increase the chances of developing asthma. These include:

  • A family history of asthma
  • Frequent respiratory infections as a child
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Living in an urban area, especially if there's a lot of air pollution
  • Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing
  • Low birth weight 
  •  Being overweight

This interactive asthma animation provides a comprehensive overview of asthma as a critical starting point for individuals and/or their loved ones. All information has been reviewed for medical accuracy by an MD. Click here to watch the video.