Asthma is a long-term condition that affects your airways – the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs and can lead to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and breathlessness.
Asthmatics often have triggers which can vary from person to person. On coming into contact with one of your asthma triggers, they can make your symptoms worse and even bring on an asthma attack.
How do my airways react to triggers?
If you have asthma you have ‘sensitive’ airways that are inflamed and ready to react when they come into contact with something they don't like.
If you come into contact with one of your asthma triggers it causes your airways to react in three ways:
- The muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and more difficult to get air in.
- The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell.
- Sticky mucus or phlegm sometimes builds up, which can narrow the airways even more.
These reactions in the airways make it difficult to breathe and lead to asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, wheezing, or coughing. It can also lead to an asthma attack.
Who gets asthma?
In the UK, around 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma. That's one in every 12 adults and one in every 11 children.
Asthma affects more boys than girls. Asthma in adults is more common in women than men.
It tends to run in families, especially when there's also a history of allergies and/or smoking.
The above information is taken from the Asthma UK website