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Asthma 101

By on May 15, 2014

Asthma affects more than 18 million adults, killing approximately nine people every day. It’s a significant cause of school absenteeism in children and lost days of work in adults. It’s a problem to say the least. But do you really understand asthma is a disease?

Asthma is a disease that

  • affects your lungs,
  • is one of the most common long-term diseases of children (adults can have it, too), and
  • causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and night time or early morning coughing.

 The exact cause of asthma is unknown, and asthma cannot be cured. However, if you or your child has asthma, it can be controlled by doing the following:

  • Receiving ongoing medical care and education about how to manage asthma and asthma attacks.
  • Avoiding asthma triggers at school, work, home, outdoors, and elsewhere.

Not everyone with asthma takes the same medicine.

Some medicines can be inhaled, or breathed in, and some can be taken as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two types—quick relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, you should visit your doctor or other medical professional to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they don’t help you if you’re having an asthma attack.

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Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor or other medical professional about the side effects of your medicines.

The important thing to remember is that you can control your asthma.

With your doctor’s or other medical professional’s help, make your own asthma action plan (management plan) so that you know what to do based on your own symptoms. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it.

Content is courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.