Basic Definition: Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that causes the inflammation of the bronchial tubes making it difficult to breath.
In short and layman’s terms, Asthma is a disease that causes the swelling of tubes that the human body uses for airflow. A common misconception of Asthma is that it directly affects the lungs, in actuality; Asthma only affects the tubes that allow air flow from your lungs to your nose and mouth.
Common Symptoms of Asthma
Heavy Coughing or Wheezing
Extreme shortness of breath during heavy activity including exercise
Frequent Chest Pains

Additional Symptoms
An individual who has Asthma is likely susceptible to the following conditions
· Gasto-Esophageal reflux Disease
o A condition in which an individual has frequent pains of the chest area. 80% of individuals with Asthma also have this condition. The cause of this is due to constant increased pressure on an individual’s lungs, causing airways to constrict, leading to tight chest pains.
· Sleeping Disorders
o Many individuals with severe asthma tend to have to have trouble sleeping due to problems breathing at night while asleep.
How do individuals contract asthma?
Asthma is affected by both the environment and genetics. There are also forms of allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma.

· Environmental Asthma
o There are many factors of the Environment that can contribute to asthma. Of these factors, tobacco smoke and air pollutants have a huge part in whether an individual has asthma. Because pollutants cause a constriction of the airways, making it difficult to breath, a constant application of this factor can cause an individual to develop an asthmatic condition. Should a individual develop an asthmatic condition from this, it should not be considered a form of allergic asthma. Allergic Asthma conditions are asthmatic attacks that occuer when an individual has inhaled common allergens such as pet dander pollen, etc causing a similar asthmatic attack.
· Genetic Asthma
o Over the course of many genetic association studies, it has been discovered that over 100 genes have been associated with an individual developing an asthmatic condition. However, at this current point, it is very difficult to say which genes causes asthma for certain as researchers require more time to analyze the cause.

Asthma can be triggered by allergens or irritants such as:
Pet Dander
Mold Spores
Food Allergies
Cigarette Smoke
Smog and air pollutants
Heavy Exercise

What is an Asthma Attack?
Basic Defenition: An Asthma Attack is the constriction of muscles around airway tubes that causes difficulty in breathing for an individual due to airflow from the lungs to the nose and mouth to become severely restricted. There are many telltale signs of an Asthma attacks, most of which include:
Common Symptioms of Asthma Attacks
Heavy Coughing or Wheezing
Extreme shortness of breath
Frequent Chest Pains
Rapid Breathing/Hyper Ventilation
Medicine does not improve symptoms
Blue Lips and Finger Nails
Heavy Chest Pains due to contrictions

Asthma attacks can last anywhere from a minute to a few days, if symptoms do not calm down immediately or if medicines result in no affect, the individual should be rushed to the emergency room for immediate intensive care.
Where are we now?
At this point in time there is no way to fully cure Asthma, however there are several medications that can help relieve the symptoms of asthma over time where an individual can lead a normal life without interference of the condition.

Much like other incurable conditions, there are two different types of medicines for treating asthma, immediate relief medications used mostly during an attack and long term controllers that are taken over a long period of time to help reduce the severity of asthma symptoms.

Common Long term controllers: (Treatment)
Common Short Term Medications (Immediate Relief)
Inhaled corticosteroids such as Albuterol help prevent inflammation.
Short Acting Bronchodilators in an inhaler form
  • Ventolin is a common prescription for inhalers
Long acting bronchodilators work to open airways
Corticosteroids administered orally or by injection

It is not currently understood why some people develop asthma and others do not, however, heredity has been suspected due to a higher rate of cases in families and twins.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:

Mayoclinic. (2009). Asthma, October 16, 2009:
WebMD. (2009) Asthma Health Center, October 16, 2009:
Google Health (2009) Asthma, October 16, 2009:
"WHO|Asthma." World Health Organization. WHO, 2010. Web. 17 Oct 2010. <>.
"Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America." Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. AAFA, 2010. Web. 17 Oct 2010. <⊂=17>.