Asthma

What Families Need to Know

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that usually develops during childhood. It occurs when the airways in the lungs become inflamed (swollen) and constrict (become smaller), making breathing difficult. Asthma affects all the airways in the respiratory system, from the windpipe (trachea) in the neck to the smallest airways in the lungs. No two children with asthma experience it exactly the same way.

3 Ways Asthma Affects Airways:

  1. Inflammation (swelling) of the lining of the airways decreases the amount of room there is for air to flow in and out. This swelling can last for weeks after an acute episode, called an asthma attack, or it may become a condition that never completely goes away.
  2. Bronchospasm is a tightening of the muscles that surround the airways. This narrows the airway, preventing air from getting in or out of the lungs.
  3. Excessive mucus produced in the lungs often blocks the airways.

Symptoms occur when asthma triggers, such as a cold or allergies, irritate the airways. Proper treatment can control asthma in the majority of children.

Symptoms vary from child to child and from episode to episode

Four keys to successful treatment:

• Individualized care programs
• Recognizing warning signs of a severe episode
• Early treatment
• Avoiding things that trigger asthma attacks as much as possible

What causes Asthma?

Researchers are still not sure exactly what causes asthma in kids, but they do know that both genetics and the environment can cause it.

Families  should learn what causes asthma attacks and increased asthma symptoms for children.

Asthma Attacks

When a child with asthma has difficulty breathing, we call it an asthma attack. Asthma attacks are caused by the three factors described above:

  • Inflammation
  • Bronchospasms
  • Excess mucus.

Families can learn more about helping kids with asthma: 

Quiz: Is your child’s asthma under control?

Common Asthma Terms