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Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes the lining of your airways to become inflamed and irritated. This inflammation results in an overproduction of mucus and a narrowing of the airways, especially in response to certain triggers, like dust or pollen. As the airways constrict and become narrow, it can become very difficult to breathe.
Asthma can cause different symptoms in different people and the severity of symptoms can also vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms include:
a wheezing noise while breathing
tight feelings in the chest
difficulty breathing, especially during severe attacks
excessive production of mucus
Many people find their symptoms are worse first thing in the morning, clearing up as the day goes on and they become more active. Symptoms can also become worse when exposed to different temperature extremes or during and following physical activity.
People with asthma have chronic coughing, which means coughing occurs over a long period of time. In most cases, coughing spells will be accompanied by the production of mucus or difficulty breathing or both. The only way to know for sure if you have asthma is to have an evaluation, including listening to your lungs and undergoing a simple breathing test that measures the function of your lungs. A chest x-ray may also be ordered to rule out other conditions like lung cancer.
Asthma can be managed using handheld inhalers that you can carry in your pocket or with nebulizers, larger devices that plug in and provide a steady stream of medication. It's also important to know your triggers and avoid them when possible.
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