What Is Asthma?

Maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with asthma or maybe you simply want to learn more about your condition after all these years. What’s going on with asthma anyway?

Asthma is a chronic condition that involves reversible airway obstruction. That’s a big way of saying that in asthma, some portion of your lungs gets blocked, leading to difficulty breathing and other symptoms, such as chest tightness and coughing.

What causes these blockages in your airways? In the lungs of people with asthma, there tends to be an overproduction of mucus, as well as inflammation and airways that easily tighten and twitch. The result is your airways becoming constricted, or even blocked.

Think of your lungs like an upside down tree, in which the trachea or “windpipe” is like the tree trunk because it is the largest airway. The trachea then subdivides into branches that continue to subdivide over and over into thousands of smaller and smaller branches and “leaves” (the alveoli).

It is in these many branches where the blockages occur, whether due to mucus “gumming up” the airways or to airways that have simply become too narrow to carry air, as a result of inflammation.

Fortunately, this airway obstruction is reversible, which means it can be cleared out, leaving you to breathe normally again and return to your regular, everyday activities. But it can take time for this healing to occur, and your body will be susceptible to blockages again in the future.

This is why it is so important to adhere to your asthma treatment plan even when you are feeling well. By staying committed to your full treatment plan and checking in with your doctor regularly, you can keep your airways healthy, free, and clear.

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