Asthma is a condition, often linked to allergies, which affects the sufferer's ability to breathe properly. There are many different asthma triggers, any one of which can cause the muscles around the airways in the chest to contract. This restricts the amount of oxygen passing through to the lungs. The resultant difficulty in breathing can be mild and can pass very quickly, or can be much more severe, in which case the sufferer is said to be experiencing an asthma attack.


Asthma rates are thought to be on the rise worldwide. Environmental factors such as pollution are now believed to be one of the most significant asthma triggers. Being overweight is another contributing factor, as is being a smoker. In fact, studies have shown that a child is thirty-five percent more likely to be asthmatic if his or her mother smoked during the pregnancy. One of the most common asthma triggers is an allergy, often to animal hair, dust, or pollen. There are high instances of such allergies being passed on genetically.


There are several asthma signs and symptoms to be aware of. As with other respiratory problems, asthma causes the sufferer to experience coughing, wheezing, and a shortness of breath. They will also generally feel a tightness in the chest area as the muscles contract. Common triggers have already been discussed, although it should be noted that these are also the symptoms of exercise induced asthma. Sufferers of exercise induced asthma experience difficulty breathing whenever they begin to exert themselves.


Despite the fact that some forms of exercise and strenuous activity can trigger an asthma attack, swimming is known to actually alleviate the effects of the condition. This is because the controlled breathing that is required when swimming strengthens the lungs and airways. In fact, breathing exercises in general are among the most popular non pharmacological treatments for asthma.


Although many sufferers explore natural asthma treatments, the most effective method of controlling the condition is the use of inhalers. These devices express medicine directly into the airways and lungs. There are two basic types of inhalers that can be used, depending on the severity of the condition. People with chronic asthma require a preventive inhaler, which is usually taken twice a day, and is designed to reduce the risk of an asthma attack occurring. When this is unsuccessful, however, a sufferer will require a reliever inhaler, which is designed to very quickly relax the muscles around the airways, thereby reducing the severity of the attack. In the extreme cases when a reliever inhaler is ineffective it will be necessary to call the emergency services, as an asthma attack of this magnitude could be potentially fatal.


When it comes to asthma age is not a factor. A person can develop the symptoms at any stage of their life. This fact, combined with the increase in cases worldwide, means that it is important to raise awareness of the condition. Learning about symptoms and asthma attack treatment options is the first step to controlling the condition, and could ultimately help to save your life.