Living with asthma

using an inhalerMore than 20 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, the lung disease caused by narrow or blocked airways. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath and trouble breathing.

Left untreated, asthma can be uncomfortable and cause harmful complications. Thankfully, managing your asthma doesn't have to limit your activities. You can take control of your asthma by paying attention to the factors that make it worse and by treating it with the appropriate medication.

Preventing asthma attacks
Asthma attacks are often brought on by environmental factors called "triggers." Knowing what these are can help keep your symptoms under control.
Common triggers include:

  • cold air
  • perfumes and other strong smells
  • smoke
  • pet dander
  • dust
  • mold
  • pollen
  • pollution

Figure out what things make your asthma worse and do your best to avoid them. If this is not enough, you may need to try medication to manage your symptoms.

Treatment options
Medication is one of the best ways to treat an asthma attack. There are two main types: long-term-control and quick-relief. The long-term-control medicines prevent symptoms by reducing the inflammation in your airways. They are taken every day. The quick-relief medicines relax and open your airways at the first sign of an attack. They are taken only as needed. It is important to take your asthma medication exactly as instructed. Even if your symptoms go away, that does not mean your asthma has.

Breathe a little easier
Asthma can be difficult to deal with, but it does not have to control your life. With the right treatment, you can live an active and healthy life.

Learn about using an asthma action plan in our Health Encyclopedia.