is caused by inflammation in the airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swells. This reduces the amount of air that can pass by. In sensitive people, asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in allergy-causing substances (called allergens or triggers).
Common asthma triggers include animals (pet hair or dander), dust, changes in weather (most often cold weather), chemicals in the air or in food, exercise, mold, pollen, respiratory infections such as the common cold, strong emotions (stress) and tobacco smoke.
Asthma attacks can last for minutes to days and can become dangerous if the airflow is severely restricted. Symptoms include cough with or without sputum (phlegm) production, pulling in of the skin between the ribs when breathing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, rapid pulse, sweating, confusion, difficulty breathing, chest pain and shortness of breath.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
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