Asthma is one of the most common childhood diseases despite it strikes adults as well. Asthma affects the lungs causing repeated episodes of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. The cause of asthma is unknown but appears to have a genetic link. Although there is no cure, asthma can be controlled. Diagnosis is particularly difficult in children under the age of 5. Having your lung function checked regularly and checking for allergies help healthcare professionals make a correct diagnosis.

What exactly is an asthma attack? An asthma attack occurs when the airways in the lungs shrink due to inflammation. This inflammation is usually due to a reaction to some sort of trigger. Because the airways have shrunk, less air can get in and out of the lungs. The body also produces mucus that further clogs the airways.

Asthma triggers are environmental agents that cause an asthma attack. These vary from person to person. It is important to avoid these triggers to keep airways open and avoid an attack. The common triggers are smoke, dust mites, cockroaches and their droppings, auto and industrial emissions, pet dander, mold and over exertion through strenuous exercise. It is important to know what triggers cause an asthma attack in order to avoid them.

It is very important to control asthma symptoms in order to avoid attacks. Medication for asthma comes in two forms, those you inhale and those that come in the form of a pill. Each type of medication works in one of two ways; they either are quick acting and work immediately or they work long term to control symptoms. Long term medications help to control attacks and make them milder. Quick acting medications control the symptoms immediately. If a person finds that they have to use quick acting medications often it is a good indicator they may need to see their healthcare provider in order to find a better long acting medication.

Long term control of asthma is the goal of every person who suffers from it. Taking medication as prescribed, staying away from triggers, regular checks and knowing the symptoms before an attack occurs are the best ways to avoid an asthma attack. The benefits of controlling asthma are better sleep, better school and work attendance, ability to participate in physical activities, relief of symptoms such as coughing and wheezing and no need for hospitalization. Controlling asthma is the goal for everyone who suffers from this disease.