What is Asthma?

When you breathe, air passes through your nose and down your throat into your lungs. Inside your lungs are branching tubes called airways. When you have asthma, your airways are often swollen and red (or inflamed). This makes them extra sensitive to asthma triggers or things that you are exposed to in your environment. Examples of asthma triggers are:

  • A cold
  • The weather
  • Dust
  • Chemicals
  • Smoke
  • Pet dander

When someone with asthma breathes in a trigger, the inside of their airways makes extra mucus and swell. This narrows the space for the air to move in and out of the lungs. The muscles that wrap around the airways can also tighten, making breathing even harder. When this happens, it’s called an asthma flare-up, asthma episode or asthma attack.