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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the lungs, limiting airflow and causing mild to severe wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Some of these symptoms, when exacerbated, can lead to what is commonly referred to as an asthma attack.

Many factors may trigger an attack, and in some cases might be severe, however asthma is treatable with routine preventive visits. Indoor and outdoor triggers can make symptoms worse and cause attacks in some people who have asthma. Examples of triggers are pollen, mold, smoke, and viruses.

Asthma symptoms may not be the same in adults and children. Common symptoms include:

Individuals diagnosed with asthma can experience warning signs that an attack is going to happen. These differ in adults and children. The warning signs for adults include increased shortness of breath and wheezing, chest tightness or pain, and sweating. For children, the warning signs may be a whistling or wheezing sound when breathing out, frequent coughing, waking up coughing at night, shortness of breath while still or exercising, feelings of tightness in the chest, and trouble feeding.

There is no cure for asthma. Standard treatments for an acute attack include quick relief medicine, such as inhalers, that relax the muscles of the airway and reduce swelling. Long-term medicine and avoiding triggers can also help to reduce the number of attacks. Some natural therapies may help to better manage symptoms. They should only be used along with standard care.

Some of the information in this article can be attributed to EBSCO Information Services.