What is asthma?

Fact Checked

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs that makes breathing difficult and results to attacks of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. The symptoms  occur once the lining of the air passages start to swell while the muscles surrounding the airways constrict. Mucus will fill the airways, thus limiting the amount of air that can pass through, resulting to an attack.

Common symptoms of asthma

Coughing is a common symptoms of asthma.


Persistent cough is the most common symptom of asthma. The cough can be wet or dry and tends to worsen at night time or after exercise. If an individual has a chronic dry cough without the other symptoms of asthma, it is an indication that he/she has cough-variant asthma.


This is best described as a whistling sound that typically occurs once an individual exhales. The sound is due to the air that is forced through the narrow and constricted airways. Wheezing is considered as the recognizable symptom of asthma but if you have one, it does not necessarily mean that you have the condition. Take note that it is also a symptom of pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Tightness of chest

Once the muscles surrounding the air passages constrict, the individual will experience tightness of the chest. This symptom will make it difficult to breathe, thus leading to feeling of anxiety.

Breathing difficulties

Due to the constricted and inflamed airways, it is difficult to breathe or catch your breath. The situation is aggravated once mucus fills the constricted airways. This symptom can lead to feelings of anxiety which will only make breathing even more difficult.

Types of asthma

Always bear in mind that asthma is also called as bronchial asthma since it involves the narrowing of the bronchial airways. The condition is differentiated between childhood asthma and adult-onset asthma when the symptoms do not manifest until at least 20 years old. There are also other types of asthma that you should be familiar with:

  • Allergic (extrinsic) – this is triggered by allergens and is likely to be seasonal in nature since it goes along with seasonal allergies.
  • Non-allergic (intrinsic) – this is triggered by irritants present in the air that is not linked to allergies. These irritants include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and wood, household cleaning products, room deodorants and perfumes.
  • Exercise-induced – this affects individuals during or after physical. It can also occur among individuals who are sensitive to the common triggers of the condition.
  • Cough-variant – this type does not have the classic symptoms of asthma. Only persistent dry cough is present and can often lead to a full-blown asthma that has the other symptoms.
  • Occupational – this asthma is induced by triggers present in the work environment. Irritants can include gases, dust, dyes, fumes and rubber latex.
  • Nocturnal – in this asthma, the symptoms tend to worsen at night time. The symptoms can also be present during the day but triggers such as dust mites and pet dander can worsen the symptoms at night while sleeping.

As part of any first aid course, it includes the vital steps to take in case an individual suffers from an asthma attack. By being familiar with the symptoms and types, you know what to do in case of asthma attack.

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top

  • All stmarkjamestraining.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional