Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties.
It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also appear for the first time in adults.
There is currently no cure for asthma, but there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control so it doesn't have a significant impact on your life.
Some people, particularly children, may eventually grow out of asthma. But for others it's a lifelong condition.
The main symptoms of asthma are:
The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. They usually come and go, but for some people they're more persistent.
Asthma symptoms can sometimes get temporarily worse. This is known as an asthma attack.
This may occur randomly, or after exposure to a trigger. The tubes may also sometimes become clogged with sticky mucus.
Common asthma triggers include:
The reason why some people develop asthma isn't fully understood, although it's known that you're more likely to develop it if you have a close relative with the condition.
While there's currently no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Most asthma treatments are taken using an inhaler, a small device that delivers a spray or powder medicine to your breathing tubes as you breathe in.
The main treatments are:
You'll usually draw up a personal action plan with your doctor or asthma nurse. This will include information about your medicines, how to monitor your condition and what to do if you have an asthma attack and living with asthma .
Asthma is a long-term condition for many people particularly if it first develops in adulthood.
In children, it sometimes disappears or improves during the teenage years, although it can return later in life.
The symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment andmost people will have normal and active lives, although some people with more severe asthma may have persistent problems.
Although asthma can normally be kept under control,it's still a serious condition that can cause a number of complications.
This is why it's so important to follow your treatment plan and not ignore your symptoms if they are getting worse.
Badly controlled asthma can cause issues such as:
There's also a risk of life-threatening complications, such as severe asthma attacks.
Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also appear for the first time in adults.
Most children and adults with asthma find they have times when their breathing becomes more difficult. Asthma symptoms can sometimes get worse for a short time known as an asthma attack.
Factors such as a genes, air pollution, chlorine in swimming pools and modern hygiene standards have been suggested as possible causes, but there's not currently enough evidence to be certain whether any of these do cause asthma.
There's no single test for asthma, but it can usually be diagnosed from your symptoms and some simple breathing tests. Your GP will often be able to diagnose asthma.
Everyone with asthma should be able to lead a full and unrestricted life. The treatments available for asthma are effective for most people.
It's important to take any prescribed medication regularly, as this can help keep your symptoms under control and prevent severe asthma attacks.
Olwen Fish, from Waterhead, Oldham, has had asthma since 1950. She feels lucky to have survived to see the huge increase in effective medication and now lives life to the full.
Mother of three Rosemary Matthews first experienced asthma in her teenage years. "My asthma is under control now. I self-manage it, but I have had to make lifestyle changes in recent years." she says.
Shamim Arshad, who found that walking regularly helped her control her asthma. "My confidence has increased and I've reduced the number of inhalers I need from four to one." she says