Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause a cough, wheezing, and breathlessness.
The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time.
Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. These are the small tubes, called bronchi, which carry air in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma, the bronchi will be inflamed and more sensitive than normal.
When you come into contact with something that irritates your lungs, known as a trigger, your airways become narrow, the muscles around them tighten and there is an increase in the production of sticky mucus (phlegm). This leads to symptoms including:
• difficulty breathing
• wheezing and coughing
• a tight chest
A severe onset of symptoms is known as an asthma attack or an 'acute asthma exacerbation'. Asthma attacks may require hospital treatment and can sometimes be life-threatening, although this is rare.
For some people with chronic (long-lasting) asthma, long-term inflammation of the airways may lead to more permanent narrowing.
If you are diagnosed with asthma as a child, the symptoms may disappear during your teenage years. However, asthma can return in adulthood. Moderate to severe childhood symptoms are more likely to persist or return later in life. Although asthma does not only start in young people and can develop at any age.
Source: NHS UK