Asthma is the intermittent inflammation and narrowing of bronchial tubes, which provide the passageway for air movement. It may occur in almost any age group ranging from infancy to old age. The main distinction between asthma and emphysema or chronic bronchitis is the reversibility. Asthma occurs episodically in the form of “attacks.” In between these attacks, many patients experience no symptoms and go about their business uninterrupted. Jackie Joyner, an Olympic athlete, suffered from asthma, took medications on a regular basis, and still competed in the Olympics in track and field. With effective management of the disease, people can live relatively normal lives.

A variety of environmental exposures and other health problems may trigger attacks. Many asthmatics suffer from severe symptoms related to allergies. The various allergens capable of triggering asthma attacks include dog, cat, and other animal hair, as well as dust mites, weeds, grasses, molds, trees and even cockroaches. Upper respiratory tract infections, acid indigestion and sinus infections may also provoke asthma attacks in some people along with exercise or physical exertion.

People suffering from asthma attacks usually complain of shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. The wheezing sounds like a high-pitched noise similar to a flute and frequently worsens at night. The classic dry cough of asthma intensifies during the night as well.
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