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Asthma Defined

Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways (tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. These airways are inflamed in people with asthma. The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and the tubes often react to allergens or irritations. There is no cure for asthma. But with the proper diagnosis, medication and an asthma management plan, symptoms can be controlled.

Asthma symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing–especially early in the morning or at night. In a severe asthma attack, the airways close so much that other vital organs in the body do not get enough oxygen. 

Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines. Long-term controller medications are typically taken daily to prevent symptoms. Quick-relief medicines stop asthma symptoms when they occur.

Many people have "allergic asthma," which means that allergens–like dust mites, mold, animal dander, pollen and cockroaches - make asthma symptoms worse. Others have asthma symptoms only when exercising or playing a sport. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

Learn more about asthma symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management. Or, take our Asthma Quiz.

If you or your child have symptoms of asthma, or if your asthma is not under control, it is time to see a specialist. An allergist / immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, can help. An allergist has advanced training and experience to determine what is causing your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you feel better and live better.

The AAAAI's Find an Allergist / Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.