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What is…asthma?

A common long-term inflammatory disease of the airways, asthma has numerous symptoms, from wheezing and coughing to chest tightness and shortness of breath. While the condition can’t be cured, and it can be triggered by common allergens and other factors, symptoms can be controlled through regular monitoring, treatment and changes to your home environment.

The basics

Asthma is a condition that causes your airways to narrow and swell, producing extra mucus, which can affect your breathing and trigger coughing and other reactions. For some sufferers, it can affect daily life and even lead to potentially fatal attacks.

Asthma episodes can be set off by a variety of factors, like jogging, cold air, air pollution and allergens, including pet dander. It can often become worse at night. The condition generally can be managed by avoiding triggers and using medications, like inhaled corticosteroids and a variety of other drugs. In severe cases, intravenous corticosteroids, magnesium sulfate and hospitalization may be necessary.

Fast facts

  • In 2015, 358 million people globally had asthma, up from 183 million in 1990.
  • Asthma was recognized in ancient Egypt and treated by drinking an incense mixture called kyphi.
  • Hippocrates officially named the condition as a respiratory condition around 450 BC; the name “asthma” comes from the Greek word for “panting.”
  • Laws that limit smoking have been found to decrease the number of people hospitalized for asthma.

Clear the air

  • Stay current with vaccinations to prevent flu and pneumonia, which may trigger asthma episodes.
  • Identify your asthma triggers, like cold air, pet dander, pollen or air pollution, and take steps to avoid being exposed to them.
  • Regularly measure and record your airflow with a home peak flow meter.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Act quickly to control your symptoms if you think an attack is coming on.
  • Use a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like Coway Airmega, that can help eliminate harmful particles, including pollen and pet dander, likely to trigger your symptoms.