What is asthma?
Asthma is a disease of the airways in the lungs. Its symptoms are caused by inflammation, which makes the airways red, swollen, narrower and extra-sensitive to irritants. This leads to recurrent attacks of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Mild attacks can settle down without treatment, but treatment usually helps them to resolve more quickly. Appropriate treatment can also reduce the risk of further attacks. If you experience a serious attack you should seek emergency help.
Asthma is a long-term (chronic) disease. Your asthma does not stay the same, but changes over time, and every person with asthma has good and bad days (or longer periods of time).
Asthma is very common. Around one out of every ten people in the Western World develops asthma at some stage in their life.
GINA - Global Initiative for Asthma, www.ginasthma.org