More than 15 million people in the United States are currently living with asthma. Asthma is a breathing condition characterized by intermittent wheezing, shortness of breath and widespread narrowing of the airways. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the disease, and are generally only present during an asthma attack.
While those people living with asthma have it all the time, they will only have asthma attacks when outside irritants bother their lungs. These include dust, pollen, animal dander, mold, and other allergens, as well as exercise, stress and cold dry air. When exposed to these irritants, the airways of those people living with asthma become inflamed, resulting in swelling of the lining of the bronchi in hyper-responsiveness. As a result, less air is allowed in and out of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
While asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled by understanding the warning signs of an attack, staying away from those factors that trigger an attack, and following the advice of your doctor or medical professional. Treatment is also available by way of both short-acting and long-acting bronchodilators, which deliver medication to the lungs. For some people, asthma may improve spontaneously, while others may improve as a result of treatment.