What is asthma?

Adhuna C. Mathuria, MD
Allergy & Immunology
Asthma is the inflammation of the airways that causes coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest. Learn more from Adhuna Mathuria, MD, from StoneSprings Hospital Center in this video.
Erika Schwartz, MD
Internal Medicine

Asthma is an acute and chronic condition where small airways constrict and make breathing difficult. Wheezing is the most common symptom and sign of asthma, but also coughing is often a presenting symptom. Asthma is caused by allergies, infections, exercise and chronic lung disease. Excellent respiratory hygeine is crucial to keeping asthma at bay. Getting the correct diagnosis is key and avoiding insulting agents that cause the attacks is crucial.

UCLA Health
Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system that causes intermittent constriction of the airways due to inflammation in the lungs. As a result, the lining of the airways becomes swollen and muscles around the airways become tight, making it hard to breathe.
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways in the lungs. During an asthma attack, airways become inflamed, making it hard to breathe. Asthma attacks can be mild, moderate, or serious -- and even life threatening.

There’s no cure for asthma. People with asthma can manage their disease with medical care and prevent attacks by avoiding triggers.

(The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the U.S. government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.)
Greenville Health System
Asthma, one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S., affects more than 20 million adults and children. It is the most prevalent chronic pediatric disease, affecting six million children -- almost 10 percent of the U.S. pediatric population.

A chronic inflammatory disease of the lower airways characterized by airflow obstruction, asthma is recurrent, reversible and typically reactive to specific triggers. Chronic inflammatory cell infiltration of the airways leads to airway hyper-responsiveness, respiratory symptoms and disease chronicity. Airway remodeling and fibrosis may develop in severe cases.

Although environmental interactions can influence disease phenotype, genetic predisposition to atopy (an immunoglobulin E-mediated response to aeroallergens, particularly house-dust mite, animal dander, cockroach allergen and Alternaria) is a strong predictive factor for asthma development. Viral respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the more recently studied rhinovirus, also may play a role in asthma development and are common etiologies for acute asthma exacerbations.
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Intermountain Healthcare
Asthma is a problem with your breathing tubes. With asthma, these tubes swell or spasm (like a muscle cramp). This makes it hard for you to breathe.

Asthma can come and go, but some people have symptoms every day. Asthma can make it hard for you have a normal, active life. If asthma symptoms are really bad, you could die. That's why you should pay attention to your asthma. You need to know what to look for and what you can do to control asthma.

Asthma is a respiratory disease where the small vessels in the lungs are constricted, making breathing difficult and sometimes impossible.The cause of asthma is not known, but there is evidence that many factors, including both genetic and environmental factors, play a part. Like allergies, asthma tends to run in families.

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Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Asthma is marked by episodes of acute wheezing with shortness of breath, variable cough, and reversible airflow obstruction. In patients with asthma, some irritant causes the muscles of the bronchial tubes to spasm and narrow, and there is a noted increase in the production of mucus. When these occur, the asthma patient experiences shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Asthma is almost always a medically-treatable or medically-controllable disease.
American Red Cross
Asthma is inflammation of the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs.
Piedmont Heart Institute
Asthma is a chronic disease in which the bronchial airways in the lungs become narrowed and swollen, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and rapid breathing. An attack may be brought on by pet hair, dust, smoke, pollen, mold, exercise, cold air, or stress.
This answer is based on source information from National Cancer Institute.

Asthma is a long-term disease that is characterized by narrowing, inflammation, and hyper-responsiveness of the airways (the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs). When the airways become inflamed, they become swollen and sensitive, meaning that they may react strongly when certain things are breathed in (such as cigarette smoke, dust, or pet dander). The muscles around the airways tighten in response to the inflammation, causing the airways to have less space in them. In addition, the airways have more mucus than normal because they are inflamed, and this too can narrow the airways.

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes the airways - or bronchi - to narrow, limiting the movement of air into the lungs. Someone with asthma can cough (often at night), wheeze, and have trouble breathing. Inhaled allergens or cigarette smoke can cause an attack, as can exercise or stress. An asthma attack ends when the bronchi relax naturally or when medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators help to reduce swelling and widen the airways.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Asthma is an allergic disorder characterized by spasms of the bronchi (the airway tubes), swelling of the mucous lining of the lungs, and excessive production of thick, viscous mucus. The major concern with asthma is that it can lead to respiratory failure - the inability to breathe.

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Asthma can be mild or severe, and is classified by how your breathing is affected. Most alarming are asthma attacks, episodes of severe coughing or wheezing where it is very hard to catch your breath; but asthma can also be a chro...

nic condition. Treatment is by anti-inflammatories and bronchodilators.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.