Asthma is a common condition which affects the small air passages, the bronchi, of the lungs. These passages become swollen and inflamed and then this leads to the body producing mucus.

During an asthma attack the small airways become narrow which reduces the flow of air in and out of the lungs. This is why a sufferer may begin to wheeze, cough and have difficulty breathing. Coughing and wheezing is most common at night, during exercise or when it is cold.

Asthma attacks can be controlled with medication as the illness comes and goes at different times, most children will have the occasional attack while few have symptoms every day. When asthma is controlled a child can play sport and lead a normal active life. Medications work by opening the narrowing airways or preventing them from narrowing in the first place.

If someone around you is having an asthma attack you provide them with their medication, which they have to take two to three times over a few minutes. If this doesn't control the symptoms it is important to go to the hospital emergency department. It is important to call an ambulance if the child is having extreme difficulty breathing or is unable to talk and turning blue.

It has been found that asthma tends to run in families and is associated with eczema, hayfever and other allergies. Common triggers for asthma can be colds, weather changes, cigarette smoke, dust, pollen and some animals. If someone in your household suffers from asthma it is important that you make your home smokefree, have good ventilation and choose heating that doesn't collect or circulate dust. Ensure that the carpet and furniture is vacuumed regularly to prevent dust and that pets are keep outside.

An older person can develop asthma; it is called adult onset asthma. It can take time to diagnose has symptoms are the same as other illness of middle age, such as heart disease. Cigarette smoke is a powerful trigger of asthma symptoms. As people age their lungs become less efficient, asthma can speed up the deterioration of lung functioning, so it is important that adult asthma is monitored correctly.

Asthma can be triggered by different environments, these triggers can cause more inflammation and swelling in the airways.

Cigarette smoke can trigger asthma symptoms and even an asthma attack in some sufferers; children are more sensitive to tobacco smoke as their lungs are still developing. Children who live with smokers and passive smoke have a high chance of developing asthma and suffering more frequent asthma attacks.

New therapies are available to people who suffer from asthma. The therapies have been helpful for some, but there is no real proof for the alternative treatments. Treatments such as acupuncture, herbal therapy, hypnosis, supplements, yoga and chiropractic exercises are being use along with asthma medication.