Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.
It is caused by inflammation of the small tubes, or bronchi, which carry air in and out of the lungs. The inflammation can be triggered by a number of things, from an allergic reaction to irritation. The most common triggers are:
- house dust mites
- animal fur
- cigarette smoke
- viral infections
One in 12 adults and one in every 11 children in the UK currently receives treatment for asthma. That is around 5.4 million people.
Careful management of the condition can result in the symptoms being controlled, although their severity varies from person to person.
An ‘asthma attack’ is when the symptoms gradually or suddenly get worse to the point where a person with asthma struggles to breathe. These can result in hospital treatment and in the most severe cases they can be life-threatening.