Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children (1). Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult for millions of Americans. There is no cure for asthma, but the good news is it can be managed and treated so you can live a normal, healthy life.
With asthma, swollen airways become extra sensitive to things that you are exposed to in the environment every day, such as pollen or tobacco smoke, which cause the airways to swell even more and produce extra mucus while the muscular bands around them clamp down (1). This is what it means to have an asthma attack and the pollen, tobacco, and other things that cause attacks are known as “triggers.”
Watch this short video to see how exposure to triggers can cause an asthma attack.
Properly managing your asthma means developing an asthma action plan with your medical provider, that includes use of proper medication, recognizing signs of asthma and asthma emergencies, knowing and avoiding triggers.
Think you have asthma but aren’t sure if you should go to the doctor? Check out “When To See Your Doctor About Asthma” webpage or call 1-800-LUNGUSA for free advice from Registered Nurses or Respiratory Therapists.
There are substances or events that can cause someone’s asthma to flare-up (a flare-up is typically indicated by difficulty breathing) – tobacco smoke and e-cigarette aerosol are just two of those triggers. Asthma triggers include (1):
- Outdoor allergens – pollen, trees, and weeds
- Indoor allergens – pet dander, dust mites, and mold
- Certain medications and food additives
- Irritants in the air – smoke, chemical fumes, and strong odors
- Illnesses – colds, flu, etc.
- Events – wildfires and other smokey or heavily polluted environments
- Other triggers – stress, excitement, exercise, exposure to cold air, and sudden temperature changes
Avoiding triggers is one way to successfully manage asthma, proper use of asthma medication is another way.
Want to Learn More About Asthma?
Consider Asthma Basics – available in English and Spanish.
The American Lung Association’s Asthma Basics course is a free one-hour interactive online learning module, designed to help people learn more about asthma. This course is ideal for anyone, from frontline healthcare professionals, such as school nurses or community health workers to individuals with asthma, parents of children with asthma, co-workers, and friends and family who want to learn more about it.
- American Lung Association “Asthma and Children Fact Sheet.” Retrieved from: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/learn-about-asthma/asthma-children-facts-sheet.html
Page last updated: May 8, 2020