Asthma is a condition of the airways. People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs which react to triggers that set off their asthma. This makes it harder for them to breathe.
Three main factors cause the airways to narrow:
- The inside lining of the airways becomes red and swollen (inflammation)
- Extra mucus (sticky fluid) may be produced, which can block up airways
- Muscles around the airways squeeze tight. This is called ‘bronchoconstriction’
One in ten people in Australia has asthma – that’s over two million people!
Asthma affects people of all ages. Some people get asthma when they are young; others when they are older.
If you suspect you might have asthma, you should see your doctor for a professional diagnosis. The good news is that most people can control their asthma with medications and lead a normal life. Once your asthma is well controlled you should experience only occasional symptoms, and asthma attacks (or flare-ups) should be rare.
Note: If asthma is left untreated the long term inflammation of the airway can cause permanent damage to the airway. This can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so it’s important to see your doctor if you have any concerns.