Understanding Asthma

This website is part of a student project to increase access to asthma education in Arkansas. Your feedback about the website at the link below would be appreciated!

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a serious health problem. If your asthma is not under control, it can be dangerous. Some asthma attacks can be so bad that they can cause death if not treated quickly. Read on to learn more about: 

  • Asthma and how to control your symptoms 
  • Triggers and treatments
  • What to do in an asthma emergency 
  • Where to go to learn more 

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) disease that affects your lungs. Asthma attacks your airways, which carry air to your lungs. You can think of your airways like branches of a tree that get smaller as they reach out from the trunk (lungs). Asthma can make the airways become irritated and swollen. When that happens, the airways become smaller, and they cannot move air in and out of your lungs as they should.  

When your asthma is not controlled, it can be dangerous because your lungs do not work as well. You may even get sick enough to go to the hospital. 

What are Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma can cause:  

  • Wheezing 
  • Trouble breathing  
  • Chest tightness
  • Nighttime or early morning coughing 

What Causes Asthma?

We do not always know what causes asthma. But we do know that if someone else in your family has asthma, you are more likely to have it. It is the most common chronic disease in children. Adults can have asthma too. 

How do I know if I have Asthma?

Doctors can learn if you have asthma by asking questions. They also use a test called spirometry (spy-rom-e-tree). This test measures how much air you can forcefully breathe out after taking a very deep breath.