Asthma is a disease of the lungs. People with asthma have very sensitive air passages in their lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways get smaller and become swollen with mucus. It becomes hard to get air out of the lungs. This causes breathing problems.
Some of the signs of asthma to watch for—Each person may have different warning signs. If you notice any one of these, call your doctor.
- Shortness of breath
- Fast breathing
- Pale or bluish skin color
- Problems sleeping
- Wheezing—a whistling sound while breathing out
- Weak or soft crying in babies
- Coughing—worse at night, after exercise, in a smoky room, or in cold air
- Trouble breathing, talking, walking, or playing
- Pain or tightness in the chest
Triggers of Asthma
Triggers are things that cause an asthma flare-up. Different people may react to different triggers.
- Air pollution
- Cats, dogs, birds, mites, rodents, and roaches
- Cigarette smoke, smoke from a wood stove, or chemicals, such as perfume
- Cold air
- Colds and flu
- Pollen, house dust, mildew, mold, or grass
If your child has asthma, you and your doctor should be able to work out a plan to control it. This plan often includes both treatment and avoiding the things that cause it. Your doctor or nurse will tell you what to do.
What You Can Do to Help Control Asthma at Home
- Keep your home clean and dust free
- Keep your child away from:
- Rugs and carpets
- Stuffed animals
- Cover your child’s mattress with a plastic mattress cover
- Make sure you have enough asthma medicine. Remind your doctor when the prescription is running out or you have no more refills.
- Get a flu shot
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