The term Asthma refers to a chronic inflammatory condition or disease affecting the airways. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, chest tightening and shortness of breath. Symptoms are often recurring and can vary. Besides those already listed, asthma is also characterized by airway obstruction and bronchospasms (constriction of the muscles in the bronchioles). The condition is also called Reactive Airway Disease. A part of the danger of the disease lies in the fact that it is impartial and can affect both large and small airways.

For an attack or episode to occur, the airways affected are forced to contract causing coughing or wheezing. It is not uncommon for both to occur. Persons affected by asthma can merely experience occasional annoyance while the condition can be disruptive for some. It can be frightening because symptoms may be severe enough to be life-threatening.

An approximated 10 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys will be affected at some stage in their lives. The disease is documented as the most common cause of hospitalization in children in the US annually. Children with asthma are likely to experience their first attack by the age of 1. Almost 90 percent will experience this by age five.

It is noted that in most instances a child who develops persistent or sever symptoms has a family history of either asthma or allergies. In these cases, signs of the disease may present themselves within the first year of the child’s life. It is possible to outgrow the condition. In fact, approximately half of all asthma patients will eventually stop exhibiting or suffering from their symptoms. This happens mainly because airways tend to get larger as children grow.

The dark side to asthma is that despite advances in the field of study, asthma-related deaths have increased over the years. This being the case, it is important to keep monitoring symptoms, noting any and all changes and act swiftly in the event that an attack or episode takes place. Patients may also suffer from other conditions like sinusitis and bronchitis, both of which can trigger wheezing. Other triggers include common allergens like dust, animal dander, pollen, air pollution, cockroaches and some food kinds.

Drastic changes in emotions and exercise (light or heavy depending on the severity of condition) can also trigger asthma attacks. It has also been discovered that some girls experience wheezing shortly before the onset on their menstrual period and some drugs; aspirin for example, can trigger wheezing so check with a doctor before taking any medication.

The airway constriction caused by asthma is reversible over time and with proper treatment. Rescue inhalers (some which contain steroids) are used during attacks to keep airways open. Treatment can be used outside of attacks to help prevent them. There are many types of inhalers and alternatives to inhalers so a physician should be able to find a suitable match.

Since inflammation and swelling may still exist even in the absence of the listed symptoms, the treatment chosen should address these since treating the manifested symptoms will only provide temporary relief.