Asthma is a condition that involves the lungs. Asthma may be active or inactive. When asthma is inactive breathing is usually normal. When asthma is active it may cause difficulties breathing. The breathing is difficult because the airways become narrowed and may be blocked by secretions. Inflammation of the airways may in part be responsible for causing the narrowing and secretion build up described above.
Some people are born with asthma and others may develop asthma later in life. The exact cause for asthma is not known. Most people with asthma have triggering events that activate their asthma. Several common things activate asthma including infections, certain plant or animal material, dust, exercise, and certain stresses.
Asthma usually responds to treatment. Medications that help relax the airways and decrease inflammation are used to treat asthma. These medications may be taken by inhalation or by mouth daily. When an asthma ia active (often called an attack), other medications can also be given intravenously. The best approach to a person with asthma is to prevent an attack from happening or treat the asthma attack very early on.
Most people with asthma maintain a normal lifestyle and level of physical activity. However, asthma can be dangerous if untreated. Some conditions, such as status asthmaticus (severe asthma attack), can even cause death. This is why it is important for anyone with asthma to work with their doctor to make sure they have the proper medication. Also, if asthma symptoms are not quickly controlled, the patient's doctor should immediately be notified.
Related LinksNational Library of Medicine
The National Library of Medicine presents information and pictures about asthma.