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What is asthma?

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What is asthma? Asthma is a disease of the lungs and of the air tubes leading to them. Asthma causes the walls of the bronchioles (the tiny airways in the lungs) to swell and produce mucus so that it becomes difficult to breathe. The bands of muscle around the outside of the bronchioles tighten, further blocking the flow of air. What causes asthma and who is at risk? No one is sure what causes asthma, but the bronchioles of many people who have asthma are more sensitive than usual to certain triggers. Common triggers include: * Pollens and grass seeds * House dust and house dust mites * Tobacco smoke * Pollutants in the atmosphere * Changes in the weather * Respiratory infections such as a cold or a sore throat. ...read more.


However, asthma can can recur in adult life and it can begin at any age. It is becoming more common in the UK and many other countries, but no one is sure of the reasons for this. What are the common symptoms of asthma? Asthma causes recurrent episodes of shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and a feeling of tightness in the chest. Often, especially in young children, the only symptom is a cough, which is sometimes present only at night. The duration and severity of the symptoms vary enormously from person to person and from episode to episode. They may last for just a few minutes, for several days or even for weeks. ...read more.


Because asthma is an episodic condition (it comes and goes), you may have no symptoms at all when you see your doctor. However, your doctor will want to listen to your chest and may perform simple tests to measure your breathing. The most common of these tests is a peak flow reading, which is taken with an instrument called a peak flow meter. This is essentially a tube with a scale on it. You blow into the tube as hard as you can and the scale tells you how strongly you are able to breathe out. If the doctor suspects you have asthma, you may be prescribed asthma medication to see if this brings about an improvement in your symptoms. This is often done for children who may have asthma. Human Biology 1 22.01.03 cworkresearch ...read more.

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