What is Asthma?

More than 300 million people in the world have asthma – a chronic respiratory disease. It is one of the most common long-term diseases in children, although adults have it as well.

Asthma causes wheezing; breathlessness; chest tightness and coughing at night or early in the morning. If you have asthma, it is always there but attacks generally only happen when something bothers your lungs.

What’s An Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack usually starts when your airways over-react to a trigger, that is, something that makes your symptoms worse. This over-reaction results in airways swelling and narrowing, and producing more mucus. Breathing becomes difficult with shortness of breath or feeling like you can’t catch your breath, coughing, chest tightness as if the lungs are being squeezed as well as wheezing – noisy breaths that sound like a whistling or rattling sound in the chest, are common symptoms.

An asthma attack is traumatic for all involved. The person with asthma often feels out of control, fearful of participating in physical activity and is often embarrassed about taking medications such as inhalers in front of others. In addition, the sensation of chest tightness and struggling for breath that occurs during an attack is frightening. The story that is seldom told is that of the family members and caregivers who experience helplessness and loss of peace of mind while they wait, on edge, for the next attack, or sit helplessly watching their loved one struggle for breath during an attack.

How Can You Tell If You Have Asthma?

Diagnosing asthma, especially in children younger than 5, is often difficult. Doctors will check how well your lungs work to determine if you have asthma. Sometimes they will test for allergies which can trigger asthma. Other things a doctor will generally ask you:

  • Do you cough a lot, especially at night?
  • Are your breathing difficulties worse after physical activity, or at certain times of the year?
  • Do you have chest tightness, wheezing, and/or colds lasting more than 10 days?
  • Does anyone in your family have allergies or asthma?

Often, the doctor will also check how well your lungs are working using a device called a spirometer.

You Are Not Alone

More than 300 million people in the world have asthma. In the US, the CDC estimates that 7.6% of adults (i.e., 18.4 million people) and 8.4% of children (i.e., 6.2 million children) have asthma.

Children often have asthma and allergies. Some people with asthma as children will continue to have symptoms throughout their lifespan while others find their symptoms subside when they become adults. You can develop asthma at any age. Adults who develop asthma often do not have allergies associated with it.

Learn More at:  www.cdc.gov/asthma

Control Is Possible!

Tips for successful Asthma Management:

  • Ensure you have an Asthma Action Plan (also called an Asthma Management Plan)
  • Take your controller medicine exactly as your doctor or relevant medical professional tells you to – even when you have no symptoms
  • Avoid triggers as much as possible

Global Asthma Organizations, Facts and Figures

The Global Asthma Network

The Global Asthma Network was established in 2012 to improve asthma care globally. globalasthmanetwork.org


THE GLOBAL INITIATIVE FOR ASTHMA Launched in 1993 as a collaboration among the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, USA and the World Health Organization www.ginasthma.org

The Global Asthma Report 2021

The Global Asthma Report 2021

Helpful Resources & Links

Asthma Action Plans

CDC AsthmaAction Plan

NHLBI Asthma Action Plan PDF

ALA Asthma Action Plans PDF

AAAAI Asthma Action Plan for Home and School
16-asthma-action-plan-v10_hires.pdf (aaaai.org)

NYS Asthma Action Plan for Home and School
Asthma Action Plan – Publication # 4850 (ny.gov)

Air Quality

Pollen Count: AAAAI

Local Air Quality: https://www.airnow.gov/aqi/

Why Is Coco Orange? (airnow.gov)