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We each have thousands of tiny breathing tubes in our lungs that carry air. Asthma is caused when the linings of the breathing tubes swell and become inflamed, narrowing so that less air is able to pass through making it harder to breathe. Mucus (phlegm) may clog the insides of the tubes and the muscles tighten around the tubes.
Asthma sufferers tend to be extra-sensitive to things in their environment that can trigger an asthma attack. It can be anything from:
- Colds and flu
- Inhaled allergens such as pollen, house or dust mites, animal hair and moulds
- Foods and preservatives
- Certain medicines
- Changes in temperature
Knowing what triggers your asthma and knowing how to avoid those triggers is important in controlling asthma attacks.
Symptoms of an asthma attack can be:
- Coughing, especially at night or after exercise
- Wheezing – due to difficulty in air being forced through narrowed airways
- Tightness in chest and difficulty in breathing
For mild asthma sufferers (people with occasional symptoms), treatment is usually in the form of an inhaled short-acting reliever medication
For people who frequently get asthma or have more severe symptoms, you may need regular preventive therapy as well as sometimes using the short-acting reliever to control wheezing.
There are many medicines that can help asthma symptoms. Your doctor will prescribe you what is best for you and your situation.