Asthma is a chronic condition that occurs when the main air passages of your lungs, the bronchial tubes, become inflamed. The muscles of the bronchial walls tighten and extra mucus is produced, causing your airways to narrow. This can lead to everything from minor wheezing to severe difficulty in breathing. In some cases, your breathing may be so labored that an asthma attack becomes life-threatening.
But asthma is a treatable condition, and most flare-ups and deaths can be prevented. In recent years, scientists have gained a better understandingof asthma's cause. New drugs have been developed to replace standard medications. Greater emphasis also is now put on managing your owncondition, much as people manage their diabetes with insulin. Together, you and your doctor can work to gain control over your asthma, reduce the risk of severe attacks and help maintain a normal life.