By Rebecca Harkopf

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes difficulty breathing. It is where the airways get inflamed and very sensitive, which makes the air not pass through to the lung as easily. Lots of people have it though, from little kids to the elderly. The most common symptoms are coughing, wheezing, anxiety, and the tightness of the chest. Asthma can’t be cured, but there are medications you can take to make it feel better. Don't worry though, millions of people have it.

About asthma

What causes asthma?

No one really knows why people get asthma, but scientists think it is just environmental issues that cause it, or genes, though overweight people tend to get asthma a lot.

What are some symptoms?

  • Wheezing

  • Chronic coughing

  • Anxiety

  • Rapid breathing

  • Chest tightness

How is it diagnosed and what is the treatment?

If you notice that someone has some of the symptoms, like uncontrollable coughing, wheezing, dizziness, etc. you should go to a doctor. The doctor will ask a series of questions about his/her past, how long the symptoms were happening for, and more. They will also do some respiratory tests, until they know if you have asthma or not.

Once you are diagnosed for asthma, the doctor will give you some treatments and solutions, like staying away from allergens such as excessive dust and exercise, etc. Depending on how serious your asthma is, they will give you different medications. Some of the most popular medications are an inhaler, one where you inhale the medication and some quick-relief drugs like methylxanthines and beta2 agonists.

Can it be cured?

No, but it can be treated for short-term relief.

Is it fatal?

Asthma can be fatal, but it usually isn't. Only 15% of people with asthma die because of it.

5 things you can do to maintain/improve your health

  1. Try staying away from allergens that can irritate your asthma, like dust or mold.

  2. If you do lots of exercise, make sure you take your medication

  3. Since there is no way to really prevent yourself from getting asthma, just try not to go in areas too polluted.

  4. You should follow up with your doctor every 6 months just to check your health.

  5. If your asthma seems to get worse, make sure you contact a doctor and get some new medication or ways to make it feel better again.

Fun facts

  • In the last decade, asthma cases have increased by 15%
  • Asthma costs the US about 50 billion dollars a year for health care costs
  • Around 240 million people suffer from asthma
  • Asthma in children is the cause of seven million physician visits and nearly 200,000 hospitalizations.
  • 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.
  • Cockroaches can cause asthma attacks
  • When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctor’s attention.
  • Ozone makes people more sensitive to asthma triggers such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold.
  • Puerto Ricans and African Americans have the highest risk of asthma
  • Asthma accounts for nearly 17 million physician office and hospital visits, and nearly million emergency department visits each year.