A serious lung disease that can cause permanent lung damage. Not curable, but can be controlled. One in 9 NH residents has asthma.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your lungs. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. There is no cure for asthma yet, but it can be controlled by taking medicine and avoiding the triggers that can cause an acute episode, sometimes called an "asthma attack." 

What causes asthma?

We do not know the exact causes of asthma, but we know asthma runs in families. Being exposed to secondhand smoke and infections early in life can increase the risk of developing asthma. Although asthma affects people of all ages, it often starts in childhood. It can begin at any age and can change over time. Asthma attacks occur when your airways react to triggers or things that make your asthma symptoms worse.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Asthma triggers and symptoms can be different for every person, but can include:

  • Coughing, especially at night, in the morning, or after activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness (one of the first signs that your asthma is getting worse)
  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe out)

How is asthma treated?

People with asthma should experience slight or no symptoms when their condition is managed correctly. To be in control of asthma, it is important to take your asthma medicines as directed. To successfully manage asthma, work with a health care professional to make an Asthma Action Plan. The plan will outline the steps to take each day to manage the disease and what to do if your asthma gets worse. The plan should be updated regularly and shared with family members, healthcare providers, and school nurses in the case of children living with asthma.

How do you manage symptoms?

You can follow these steps to help control your asthma:

  • Complete an Asthma Action Plan with your healthcare provider and follow it.
  • Know your symptoms and take your medication.
  • Know your asthma triggers and avoid them.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Avoid all tobacco smoke.

Uncontrolled asthma can lead to permanent lung damage. Over time, the constant swelling of the airways can cause scarring. These changes in the airways can cause your lungs to not work as well.  Asthma cannot be cured, but all asthma can be managed. Good asthma control allows you to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and have few or no symptoms.


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