Asthma is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. During an asthma attack, the linings of the airways swell and produce excess mucus while the muscles around the airways tighten. These factors combine to make the airways or bronchial tubes in your lungs narrow which makes it difficult for air to travel in and out of the lungs.
The most common symptoms of an asthma attack include:
• Coughing - When caused by asthma, coughing may not go away. It may happen more often at night or may be worse at night.
• Tightness in the chest It may feel like something wrapped around your ribs is being pulled tighter and tighter.
• Difficulty breathing - Asthma can make it feel like you can’t take a deep breath or like you are trying to breathe through a straw. Breathing out may seem harder than breathing in.
Types of Asthma
There are two basic types of asthma which share the same basic asthma symptoms:
• Allergic (extrinsic) asthma – This type of asthma is triggered by an allergic reaction to something. Allergies can trigger a variety of symptoms in the body including runny nose, swelling of tissues, and difficulty breathing. Asthma can be triggered by the same kinds of allergens that cause hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or eczema, which is a reaction on the skin that causes a rash or blisters. The most common triggers for allergic asthma are plant pollens, molds, and animal dander. Other triggers include respiratory infections such as a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection. Exercising, heartburn, and sudden changes in the temperature of the air can also trigger an allergic asthma attack.
Because some allergens such as pollens are seasonal, it is possible for allergic asthma to be a seasonal condition. This may mean having more asthma symptoms in the spring when flowers are blooming or in the late summer or early fall at times when ragweed and mold are thriving.