What is Asthma?
Asthma is a respiratory disease involving the nose, mouth, windpipe, lungs, and air tubes. Sometimes people with asthma have trouble breathing and when this happens, it is called an asthma attack. The reason a person with asthma has trouble breathing is because the muscle around the air tubes in the lungs tighten and fluid (mucus) fills the lining inside the airways. It is actually more difficult to breathe out (exhale) than it is to breathe in (inhale) during an attack.
Symptoms: Each person may experience different symptoms during an asthma attack. Here are some common symptoms:
- Can’t catch breath
- Chest pains
- Feeling that air is trapped in lungs
What can cause an asthma attack? A trigger is something that causes an asthma attack. Here are some common triggers:
- An infection like a cold or bronchitis
- Excessive exercise
- Excessive dust in the air
- Rapid changes in weather (from mild to cold)
Treatment: Asthma can be treated with many different medications. Some types of medication are:
Most people with asthma use inhalers because they go directly into the lungs and work fast. These medications serve different purposes:
- To relax the muscles surrounding airways
- To decrease inflammation and irritation
- To prevent attacks from starting
What to do if you or someone around you is having an asthma attack:
- Get inhaler
- Find an adult (if you are a child)
- Call 911 if breathing does not improve
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only, and should be used only as a supplement to, not a substitute for, professional medical advice.
- Asthma and schools – A database of educational materials, medical information, web sites, and other resources related to asthma. Designed for school personnel working with grades K-12.
- Indoor Air Quality – Tools for Schools Program. Managing Asthma in the School Environment. You can order the kit free of charge or download almost the entire kit in PDF or HTML files!
- National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. You can download “Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools”. Also, find out about physical activity and asthma in the schools.
- American Lung Association
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Asthma Control Program