A respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.



The cause of asthma remains unclear – it may be a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. Some are diagnosed as children, and others do not show symptoms until they are adults. Exposure to various environmental substances can trigger an asthma attack:

  • Airborne (pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander or particles of cockroach waste)
  • Respiratory infections
  • Physical activity
  • Cold air
  • Air pollutants and irritants (smoke from fires or cigarettes)
  • Certain medications (beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve))
  • Strong emotions and stress
  • Sulfites and preservatives (found in shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)


  • 1 in 13 people have asthma
  • More than 25 million Americans have asthma (7.7% of adults, 8.4% of children)
  • More common in women than men

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to exhaust or pollution
  • Exposure to occupational triggers (i.e. chemicals in farming, hair dressing, etc.)
  • Exposure to second hand smoke
  • Family history (blood relative) of asthma
  • Medical history of another allergic condition
  • Medical history of a severe viral respiratory infection as a child
  • Overweight / Obesity
  • Smoking tobacco


There is no cure or prevention for asthma, however those with asthma can make a treatment plan with their doctor to control their triggers and prevent symptoms. These plans include:

  • Know individual triggers and how to avoid them
  • Take asthma medications as prescribed
  • Track asthma symptoms to determine if/when they get worse
  • Know what to do when symptoms are beyond your abilities


People with lung disease are at a higher risk for serious problems due to vaccine preventable diseases. The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Additionally, the CDC recommends the following vaccines for adults suffering from lung disease (talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you):

COVID-19 and Asthma

The CDC states that people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.  COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease. Click here for more information on keeping safe with asthma.


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