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Asthma is a very common long-term condition that affects your airways and breathing. Approximately one adult in 13 is currently being treated for asthma in the UK.
Asthma affects the airways, the small tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, your airways are sensitive and easily become swollen. When they are irritated they narrow, the muscles around them tighten, and there may be an increase in production of sticky mucus or phlegm. This makes it harder to get enough breath, and causes wheezing, coughing and your chest may feel tight.
Asthma severity can range from mild to severe, with most cases somewhere between. Even if your asthma is mild, you should visit the GP regularly to have it monitored. Your GP can then prescribe the treatment most likely to help your symptoms and prevent your asthma from getting worse. An asthma attack can become very serious, if you cannot control the symptoms with your treatment regime – you should see your GP or a hospital doctor immediately if this happens.
The cause of asthma is not fully understood. It is partly an allergic condition, there is also a genetic connection between asthma, hay fever and eczema. This suggests that the three conditions can be inherited.
There are a number of triggers that can bring on symptoms, these include house dust mite, animal fur, pollen, tobacco smoke, cold air, viral and bacterial chest infections. It is sensible to try to avoid these triggers as much as possible