Asthma Fact Sheet: Causes, Triggers And How It's Treated

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airway. This simply means there is inflammation of the airway, tightening of the airway muscles and airflow obstruction. 

asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that causes difficult breathing

Who gets Asthma?

  • Those with one or both parents with asthma have the tendency to develop asthma.
  • Exposure to a trigger.
  • Those in contact with triggers at their place of work (Occupational asthma).

What are the Risk Factors?

The cause of asthma is unknown, however, triggers often bring on asthmatic attacks. A trigger is anything or condition that causes inflammation in the airways leading to asthma symptoms. 
They include:

  • Dust mites.
  • Animals.
  • Cockroaches.
  • Moulds.
  • Pollens.
  • Viral infections.
  • Air pollutants.
  • Smoke.
  • Exercise.
  • Cold air.
  • Chemical fumes. 
  • Perfumes.
  • Certain food additives.
  • Intense emotions or stress.

What are the symptoms?

  • Chronic (Regular) cough.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Wheezing (Whistling sound produced during breathing due to narrowed airway).

How is it treated?

  • Currently, there is no cure for asthma. About half the number of individuals diagnosed during childhood would no longer have asthma after a decade.
  • Avoid smoking, avoid triggers.
  • Medication.
  • Follow an asthma action plan developed for you by your doctor.

Summary

  • Asthma is a respiratory disease that causes difficulty in breathing, coughing and chest tightness.
  • Asthma can be brought on by triggers such as dust mites, animals, smoke, chemical fumes and air pollutants.
  • It can be controlled by avoiding asthma triggers, taking your medication an following an asthma action plan.

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Recommended for you

Resources:

Asthma society of Canada
[1]- Edward, Graham Douglas, Kurtis S. (2010). Asthma.

London: Manson Pub. pp. 27-29. ISBN 978-1-84076-513-7

By Omonijo MO, MBBS