People with asthma have very sensitive airways which can react easily to different things they inhale.  Airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.  Some of the most common causes of an asthma reaction are pollen, mold, pets, smoke, dust, cold air and exercise.


During an asthma reaction, three different things can happen which make it difficult to breathe.  The muscles around the airways can tighten, the airways can swell and cells in the airways can make extra mucus.


The symptoms of an asthma attack are coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.  For some people, asthma symptoms are a minor nuisance.  For others, the symptoms are a major problem that interfere with daily activities.


Currently there is no cure for asthma so asthma treatment is geared towards controlling symptoms.  Asthma is treated with two types of medications: medications that are taken every day and rescue medications that are taken only when needed.


Daily asthma medications work over a period of time to reduce swelling and irritation in the airways preventing asthma symptoms.  Rescue medications are usually inhaled directly into the lungs to open airways and stop symptoms.  Rescue medications are used to quickly provide relief during an asthma attack.