What is Asthma?

What is Asthma?

  • Asthma is a chronic* disease of the airways in the lungs.
  • The inside of the airways are sensitive and always a little swollen.
  • Common things that trigger asthma include colds, tobacco smoke and allergies.
  • There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled.

*Chronic means it is always there even when there are no symptoms.


How Do You Get Asthma?

  • Asthma tends to run in families.
  • The risks for developing asthma increase if:
    • a parent, brother or sister have asthma or allergies.
    • the child has allergic skin problems (eczema) or other allergies.


What Are Asthma Symptoms?

  • Cough
  • Wheeze (whistling noise in the chest)
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Chest tightness

Asthma symptoms can change from one flare-up to the next.

Asthma may seem mild. But, having symptoms at night, even once a week, is a concern.


What Happens in Your Lungs?

Asthma symptoms happen when:

  • the muscles around the outside of the airways tighten 
  • the inside of the airways become more swollen 
  • extra mucous is produced


How Can Asthma Be Controlled?

  • Know your asthma triggers and stay away from them.
  • Know the signs of worsening asthma (eg. getting a cold).
  • Know what asthma medicines do and learn how to use them.
  • Work with your doctor to complete a written Asthma Action Plan. It tells you what to do when your asthma is under control and what to do when you have asthma problems.
  • Work with an asthma educator to learn more about controlling asthma. Contact your local Lung Association to find an educator in your area.
  • See your doctor at least twice a year even if asthma is under control.


Good Asthma Control is:

  • Normal Activity
  • Normal Sleep
  • No daytime asthma symptoms 
  • No need for Reliever medicine 
  • No emergency visits for asthma
  • No missed school or daycare


Asthma Facts

  • Asthma can develop at any age, but is more common in childhood.
  • Children with asthma can lead healthy lives.
  • The number of children with asthma has increased in the past 30 years.
  • Up to 15% of Canadian children have asthma.
  • Asthma may be different for each person.
  • Allergies are a problem for 3 out of 4 children who have asthma.
  • Asthma is present even when symptoms are few or absent.
  • Asthma symptoms may seem better in the teen years, but can return later in life.


Asthma Allie says:

"Take control of your asthma!"


The Children's Allergy & Asthma Education Centre ©2014