Asthma is a lung condition in which the airways are narrowed and inflamed. Certain outdoor and indoor substances, foods, infections, and exercise can trigger an asthma attack. This brochure depicts the symptoms of asthma and common medications used to treat the condition.
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Asthma is a lung disease that inflames and narrows your airways.
How Your Lungs Work
Normally, as you inhale, air moves freely through your trachea, or windpipe, then through large tubes called bronchi, smaller tubes called bronchioles, and finally into tiny sacs called alveoli. Small blood vessels called capillaries surround your alveoli.
Oxygen from the air you breathe passes into your capillaries, then carbon dioxide from your body passes out of your capillaries into your alveoli so that your lungs can get rid of it when you exhale.
Your bronchioles expand when the air is warm, moist, and free of allergens and irritants.
Your bronchioles tighten, or contract, when air is cold, dry or contains allergens or irritants.
If You Have Asthma
If you have asthma, your airways are frequently inflamed and swollen. Certain triggers cause your inflamed airways to overreact, resulting in an asthma attack (bronchospasm).
Symptoms of Asthma Attack During an asthma attack, you may experience:
What Happens During An Asthma Attack When you have an asthma attack, the muscles around your airways contract and your airway walls become more swollen. Your airways may produce thick mucus that narrows the passageway for air to travel. As a result, it becomes more difficult to breathe.
Living With Asthma
If you have asthma, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce:
Bronchodilators and long-acting anti-inflammatory medication are two types of asthma medication.
Take your medication exactly as your healthcare provider has instructed.
You can't prevent asthma, but you may be able to control it with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Treatment
Signs of a serious asthma attack may include:
Avoiding Asthma Triggers
Avoiding triggers is a key part of asthma control. Here are a few tips:
Control Your Indoor Environment
Control Your Outdoor Environment
Control Strong Emotions and Stress
The information in this handout has been created and peer reviewed by graduate-level medical illustrators, followed by reviews from medical subject experts, either physicians or PhDs on the Nucleus Medical Review Board, to ensure medical accuracy and audience level appropriateness.
The handout is intended to supplement the information you receive from your healthcare provider and should never be considered personal medical advice. Always contact your healthcare provider with health questions and concerns.