Asthma is a chronic (long-term) condition when your airways become hypersensitive to certain things which trigger an inflammatory reaction. The airway lining becomes irritated, inflamed and narrowed, restricting the flow of air in and out of your lungs.
Asthma is common and affects over five million people in the UK. It often starts in childhood, but adults can get it too.
You’re more likely to get asthma if you or someone in your family has another allergic (atopic) condition, such as hay fever or eczema.
Asthma symptoms range from mild, where you may not be too bothered by them, to severe, which can even be life-threatening.
Most people can manage their condition with asthma inhalers.
You may have these asthma symptoms:
You may notice that symptoms get worse:
Breathing in cold, damp air can also trigger asthma symptoms, which can be a problem with the weather.
If you’re having extreme difficulty in breathing, or your symptoms are suddenly worse, you may be having an asthma attack and should seek immediate medical help.
Your doctor will ask you about:
They’ll also check in case you have an airway infection which could be causing your symptoms.
They may perform tests to check your breathing and lung function. These include:
You may also need an X-ray to check your lungs.
There are different triggers. These include:
Asthma can also be brought on by:
You’ll usually be prescribed asthma inhalers. There are two types:
If your symptoms don’t improve, you’ll be referred to a respiratory consultant. They’ll be able to give you other treatments.
You’ll need a follow-up appointment with your doctor once a year to check your asthma is under control and make changes to your medication if required.
You can also reduce the chances of an asthma attack by: