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Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swells produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult, trigger coughing, a whistling sound when you breathe out. For some, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities. Asthma can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Because asthma often changes over time, it’s important that you work with your doctor to track your signs.

Symptoms

Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times. Asthma signs and symptoms include shortness of breath, cChest tightness or pain, wheezing when exhaling (children common sign), trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu.  Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome. Increasing difficulty breathing, as measured with a device used to check how well your lungs are working (peak flow meter). The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often.

When to see a doctor

Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Work with your doctor to determine what to do when your signs and symptoms worsen — and when you need emergency treatment.

Causes

It isn’t clear why some people get asthma and others don’t, but it’s probably due to a combination of environmental and inherited (genetic) factors.

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