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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Asthma Basics

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What is Asthma?

  • Chronic inflammatory disease of the airways
  • An obstruction of airflow
  • An increased sensitivity of the airways
  • Disease that cannot be cured, but can be controlled

Causes of Asthma

  • Exact cause - still unknown
  • Genetics – If other family members have asthma, development is more likely.
  • Early exposure – Exposure to tobacco smoke, infections and allergens at a young age increases the chance of developing asthma.

Symptoms of Asthma

  • Intermittent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Severity and frequency differ

Triggers of Asthma

  • Exercise – may be the only cause for some people
  • Viral infections
  • Tobacco smoke - #1 preventable asthma trigger
  • Strong odors
  • Extreme temperature changes
  • Air pollution
  • Emotions - crying, laughing, stress
  • Animal dander - skin, hair, feathers 
  • Cockroaches
  • Dust mites - found in dust
  • Mold
  • Pollen

Removing/eliminating the trigger can drastically reduce asthma symptoms and severity.

Basic Asthma Management

  • Take prescribed medication.
  • Develop an asthma action plan with your physician, and follow it.
  • Avoid asthma triggers.
  • Get an annual influenza vaccination.
    • Flu Clinic Locator - Influenza or "the flu" is not merely the common cold, but a serious respiratory illness. Flu season can begin as early as October, and last well into springtime. The best way to reduce the effects of influenza is through annual vaccination.
  • Good communication between parents/guardians, physicians, and teachers/care providers is essential in providing effective asthma management.

Last Revised:  August 06, 2014