Also known as reactive airway disorder, this chronic condition affects the lining of the bronchioles (lung airways). The airway lining becomes inflamed and swollen with increased mucus production. During an asthma flareup, airway narrowing accounts for dyspnea, shortness of breathe. Prescription medications can reduce inflammation and reverse airway narrowing.
Asthma affects 10% of children, the majority being diagnosed before age 10. Family history may be a predictor. An asthma attack may range from mild wheezing to severe, life-threatening airway obstruction. Symptoms may include wheezing, chest tightness and/or pain, shortness of breath, and frequent, recurrent cough.
Known asthma triggers:
- Viral infections such as colds and flu
- Environmental irritants such as chemicals, tobacco smoke, air pollutants, and perfumes.
- Allergens including pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust mites.
Successful treatment may include bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, leukotrine modifiers, and mast cell inhibitors.