Asthma - Definition

Asthma (pronounced AZ-muh) is a chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory disease of the airways in the human body. The inflammation causes the airways to narrow from time to time. This narrowing can produce wheezing and breathlessness. In extreme cases, the asthma patient may need to gasp to get enough air to breathe. Occasionally, a severe asthma attack can be fatal.

This condition sometimes improves on its own. In other cases, medication is needed to reopen airways. When inflammation occurs over and over again, the airways become especially sensitive to certain environmental conditions, such as cold air, dust mites, and pollen in the air. Exercise, stress, and anxiety can produce similar effects.

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