Asthma

NHS

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 develop for the first time in adults.

There's currently no cure, but there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control, so it does not have a big impact on your life.

Symptoms of asthma

The main symptoms of asthma are:

  • a whistling sound when breathing (wheezing)
  • breathlessness
  • a tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it
  • coughing

The symptoms can sometimes get temporarily worse. This is known as an asthma attack.

When to see a GP

See a GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it's important to get a proper diagnosis and correct treatment. The GP will usually be able to diagnose asthma by asking about symptoms and carrying out some simple tests.

Treatments for asthma

Asthma is usually treated by using an inhaler, a small device that lets you breathe in medicines. The main types are:

  • reliever inhalers – used when needed to quickly relieve asthma symptoms for a short time
  • preventer inhalers – used every day to prevent asthma symptoms happening

Some people also need to take tablets.

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