Asthma is a chronic medical condition of the respiratory system. Asthma attacks are marked by the swelling of the lung’s air passages and increased mucous production, leading to difficulties in breathing, sometimes severe. Other symptoms include coughing fits, tightness of the chest, and wheezing or rattling sounds on out-breaths. The risks posed by the disease vary widely. For some persons, asthma is little more than an annoyance; for others, it can mean life-or-death visits to the emergency room.

The cause or causes of asthma are unclear. Medical researchers suspect that the disease has both environmental and genetic aspects. Relevant factors may include an inherited tendency for allergies, parents with asthma, childhood respiratory diseases, and contact with certain allergens and irritants. The latter appear to play a critical role in triggering the disease and include pollen, molds, pet dander, smoke and other pollutants, physical activity, cold air, bronchial infections, acid reflux, certain food preservatives and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, and stress and strong emotions. 

Asthma can strike at any age; many of those affected are children. There is currently no cure for asthma, but its symptoms can be controlled with proper medical treatment and personal care. If you develop asthma-like symptoms, take the first step by contacting your Baptist Health primary care provider.