Asthma is a serious and potentially life threatening respiratory condition. Many people suffer from asthma and cases have increased in recent years. Often, people develop the condition during childhood but many adults with no childhood history of asthma also begin to have symptoms. Asthma is a condition in which the bronchi - the small airways of the lungs - become inflamed and constricted making it hard for the person to get enough air. Wheezing and shortness of breath are the main symptoms.

There are a number of causes of asthma and knowing what they are can help a person prevent or reduce the frequency or severity of attacks. Genetics is one factor that can contribute to a person having this condition. It is not possible to change our genes, but if one family member has asthma, others may be at greater risk of acquiring it.

Exposure to allergens is another common cause. People who get asthma also often have allergies of some kind. Food allergies can be one allergen that causes attacks. Other common allergens include dust, dust mites, rodent droppings, smoke, pollen, fumes from chemicals like paint and solvents and pet dander. Exercise and cold air can also bring it on. Knowing what triggers an asthma attack and avoiding it can help considerably in controlling the condition.

One method of determining what might be a trigger is to keep a diary of when and where they occur. Patterns may be noticed over time that give more clues about what the source of attacks might be. Sometimes it is obvious what causes an attack. Finding ways to avoid the source can lead to fewer attacks.

Stress and anxiety can also be contributing factors in asthma attacks. A diary can also help a person determine what things are causing stress and if they are linked to asthma problems. Yoga, exercise and acupuncture can all be effective in helping to reduce stress and control asthma.

Breathing hot steam can help when an attack comes on. Some herbs are considered effective by some people but it is wise to consult with a doctor before taking an herbal solution. Some herbs have side effects that can be dangerous or can interact with other medications. If symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, rash or rapid heartbeat happen after using an herbal remedy, discontinue using it immediately and see a doctor.

Prescription drugs are also available for asthma control. Rescue inhalers can stop an attack when one comes on but should not be over used. Corticosteroid inhalers are often prescribed for regular use to prevent asthma attacks but do not stop them when they start. If asthma is severe or frequent a person should seek medical help and establish a treatment plan with a physician.

Asthma is both an uncomfortable and serious condition and can be life threatening. Discovering what triggers attacks is one important steps. Reducing stress can also help. Consulting a doctor to make a treatment plan is highly advisable, especially if symptoms are frequent or severe.