Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory condition of the airways. These airways are very sensitive and swell up in response to certain triggers. The muscles in the airways tighten and the airway lining becomes swollen and inflamed, producing sticky mucous. These changes cause the airways to become narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Those with asthma may experience episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways.
Asthma episodes can be triggered by viral infections, exposure to specific allergens, irritants such as tobacco smoke and other air pollutants, exercise and some food chemicals or additives. The underlying causes of asthma are still not well understood.
When managed properly you have the potential to lead a normal, active life. This is where an asthma action plan can be very useful. Safe and effective preventer and reliever medications for asthma can improve your health and are available for adults and children, however they only work if taken as prescribed. Some people find their asthma symptoms increase if they take other medications, like aspirin.
Following your personal written asthma action plan, developed with your doctor. This is the best way to keep your asthma under control. An action plan provides simple instructions for routinely managing your asthma, plus advice on what to do if your asthma symptoms flare up.
Your Asthma Action Plan may include: What medications to take every day (even if you are feeling well), how to tell if your asthma is getting worse, what you should do if your symptoms are getting worse and what to do if you do have an asthma attack.
It is important to regularly review your asthma action plan with your Doctor. For most adults this should be once a year, and for children approximately every six months.