What's Causing the Inflammation?

There are many irritants in the air, like bacteria, pollen and dust. People with asthma can be more sensitive to these irritants and their immune systems can overreact by releasing different cells and chemicals into the airways causing inflammation.1

Over time, people with asthma can develop chronic inflammation that makes the airways even more sensitive. If the inflammation is not treated properly, each time a person with asthma is exposed to triggers, inflammation can increase, and the airways can constrict and become blocked with mucous. This can result in an increased chance of an asthma attack.1

What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma symptoms are different for everyone and depend on the severity of the disease. Below are a few of the most common symptoms of asthma:1,2

  • Coughing, especially at night or when exercising
  • Wheezing – a squeaky or whistling sound when you breathe
  • Trouble breathing
  • A tight feeling in the chest

Sometimes symptoms can be mild, whereas other times they can be serious enough to cause you to have to stop what you are doing. In very severe cases, asthma symptoms can be life threatening.1During severe asthma attacks, the airways can narrow so much that not enough oxygen can get into the blood traveling to vital organs.1

Physical activity can trigger symptoms in most people with asthma. Symptoms may occur either during or right after being active. However, regular physical activity is not a bad thing. Many doctors recommend that most people, including people with asthma, get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.1 If asthma is under control, exercise should not be a problem.1 If you or your child experience asthma symptoms when participating in physical activity, you should work with your doctor to adjust your treatment program.

If you or your child experience asthma symptoms more than twice a week, visit a physician right away. You can download a complete Asthma Symptoms Tool prior to your appointment as it may help a physician better understand the symptoms you are describing. If you or your child has already been diagnosed with asthma, the asthma symptoms tool may assist a physician in determining an appropriate treatment option.

Now that you have some background on asthma, try putting your knowledge to the test with our Asthma Quiz!

  1. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. So You Have Asthma. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/have_asthma.pdf. Accessed September 11, 2012.
  2. The American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Asthma Symptoms. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/allergist/asthma/symptoms/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed on September 7, 2012.
  3. The American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.The small airways in asthma-silent no longer. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/latest-research-summaries/Current-JACI-Research/small-airways-in-asthma-silent-no-longer.aspx. Accessed on September 7, 2012.