Asthma is a chronic disease that interferes with a person's ability to breathe. Asthma affects the airway tubes that bring air to the lungs.


Asthma causes three changes in the lungs:

  • Inflammation or swelling of the airways.
  • Increased mucous production in the airways.
  • Tightening of muscles in the airways.

Often asthma has no known cause.

Sometimes it is due to an allergy to airborne dust, pet dander, or mold. Cockroaches can also be a factor. There is also a tendency for asthma to run in families.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has determined that most—but not all—asthma cases can be linked to allergies.
People with asthma breathe normally most of the time.
Occasionally, they have attacks or flare-ups when breathing is more difficult. These episodes are often caused by exposure to triggers that cause the airways to react.
Triggers can include:
  • Cigarette smoke.
  • Pollen.
  • Pet dander.
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
  • Dust mites.
  • Viruses: viral infections may be the most common cause of asthma flare-ups.

The most common ways to prevent asthma attacks are to take preventive medications.

These medications are called long-term-control medications. You should also try avoid the triggers that cause attacks for you whenever possible.
Compiled from the following sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Learn more about The Coach’s Asthma Clipboard Program and take an interactive quiz.