Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames the airways. This means that people with asthma generally have inflammation that is long lasting and needs managing. An asthma episode, also called an asthma flare-up or asthma attack, can happen at any time. Mild symptoms may only last a few minutes while more severe asthma symptoms can last hours or days.
Asthma may lead to a medical emergency.
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During normal breathing, the airways to the lungs are fully open. This allows air to move in and out of the lungs freely. Asthma causes the airways to change in the following ways:
These changes narrow the airways. Breathing becomes difficult and stressful, like trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton.
Uncontrolled asthma — with its underlying inflammation — often acts up at night. It probably has to do with natural body rhythms and changes in your body’s hormones. The important thing to know about nighttime asthma is that, with proper management, you should be able to sleep through the night.
There is no cure for asthma. Control symptoms by taking asthma medicines and avoiding your triggers. With proper treatment and an asthma management plan, you can reduce your symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.
Talk to your health care provider about your asthma symptoms and be sure to discuss any changes in your asthma management or status.
Medical Review September 2015.