Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways in the lungs, causing them to narrow, swell and possibly produce extra mucus. Narrow, inflamed airways can result in difficulty breathing, chest pains or life-threatening asthma attacks. While asthma is a minor inconvenience to some, it can be a majorly disruptive issue for others especially during allergy season when environmental conditions exacerbate symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 13 people in the United States has asthma. Asthmatic symptoms can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include shortness of break, chest tightness or pain, wheezing when exhaling (especially in children), and coughing attacks. When these symptoms become frequent and debilitating, it could be an indication that the asthma is worsening.
For some people, asthma symptoms may flare up due to particular circumstances. Exercise-induced asthma, triggered by physical activity, may worsen in cold and/or dry air, and occupational asthma is triggered by workplace irritants like chemical fumes, gasses or dust. Regardless of what triggers an asthma attack, they can be fatal as it is difficult to get oxygen to your lungs.
While there is no cure for asthma, there is an endless amount of resources for both adults and adolescents living with asthma. If you have asthma, it is important to find support in the people around you. Those close to you should know what to do in an asthma emergency; it is important to create an asthma action plan that includes contact information for your healthcare provider, a list of asthma medication and a list of triggers among other things.
If you struggle with asthma, support groups can be a beneficial resource for sharing your experience with others that share the same struggles. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offers support groups in which you can learn new ways to function with your condition. Sharing your own experiences and approaches can also help others with their struggles.
For more information, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has a comprehensive list of resources about asthma for parents, caregivers and kids.