Asthma is a chronic lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Swelling in the airways can cause asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Asthma attacks or episodes can be caused by triggers. Triggers include pollution, pet dander, mold, pollen, exercise, tobacco, wood smoke, dust mites, or infections like the cold or flu.
There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled. Everyone with asthma should work closely with their health care provider to learn about medicines that may prevent or relieve symptoms and episodes, and how to avoid their asthma triggers. People with asthma can live healthy, active lives when they take steps to manage their condition.
Asthma rates increased dramatically during the last three decades. Every year about 40,000 Californians are hospitalized because of asthma and African-Americans are at greater risk for hospitalization and death compared to other racial groups. Hospitalization rates among children are much higher than other age groups.