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Asthma affects over 15 million Americans. It is a long lasting disease of the lungs that is often linked to allergies, family history and your surroundings. Asthma makes it difficult to breathe because it can cause inflammation in the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. The inflammation usually starts slowly, but over time it can make the muscles that line the bronchial tubes tighten and block or narrow the airway, making it difficult to breathe.


Asthma causes various breathing difficulties and varies from person to person. Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe and can include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, trouble sleeping or tiring quickly during exercise.

If you think you may have asthma symptoms, keep track of the following:

  • Symptoms – How severe are the attacks? When and where do they occur? How often do they occur and how long do they last? How do they go away?
  • Allergies – Does the child or a family member have an allergy history?
  • Illnesses – If you get frequent attacks, how severe are they? How long do they last?
  • Triggers – Have you been exposed to irritants and allergens

Asthma Prevention

While you can’t prevent asthma, you can take steps to reduce an attack by avoiding triggers. The following are common triggers for asthma:

  • Cigarette or tobacco smoke
  • Infections (colds, flu, sinus infection)
  • Allergens like mold, pollen, pet dander and dust mites
  • Strong odors from perfumes or cleaning products
  • Changes in temperature or humidity