This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Asthma.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. Chronic means: The inflammation of the airways cannot be cured. Affected people usually have asthma for life.

In asthma, the airways become inflamed. And the airways narrow: Affected people then get attacks of shortness of breath. But asthma can often be treated well. The seizures can be prevented with medication.

What are the causes of asthma?

Two things are often responsible for asthma:

  1. Disposition
  2. external triggers

1. Predisposition means: The affected person was born with a risk of asthma. The affected person has sensitive airways from birth. The bronchi become inflamed more easily than in other people. The airways then react particularly sensitively to possible external triggers of asthma.

2. There are many possible external triggers. Possible triggers of asthma are, for example, allergens. Allergens cause an allergy. Together with a predisposition, allergens can trigger an asthma attack. This form of asthma is also called: allergic asthma. Typical triggers in allergic asthma are, for example:

  • certain pollen
  • Animal hair
  • House dust mites
  • Molds

But there are also other forms of asthma. These other forms of asthma are triggered by, for example:

  • Inflammation of the airways
  • cold air
  • smoke
  • Air pollution

What happens if I have an asthma attack?

When you have an asthma attack, your airways narrow. The mucous membranes in the airways swell up. Then the air can no longer get through the airways as easily. The muscles around the airways cramp up and there is more mucus in the airways themselves.

When an asthma attack occurs, an affected person gets severe breathlessness. She can then no longer breathe out properly. The affected person may make whistling or humming noises when breathing.

Warning: asthma attacks can be very dangerous. If there are signs of a severe asthma attack, be sure to call the emergency services. The phone number is: 112.

How can you recognize asthma?

Typical signs of an asthma attack are:

  • Shortness of breath, especially at night
  • Problems breathing out
  • Whistling or humming noises when breathing

If you have very severe asthma attacks, you may also get:

  • Racing heart
  • blue lips
  • blue skin

Warning: asthma attacks can be very dangerous. If there are signs of a severe asthma attack, be sure to call the emergency services. The phone number is: 112.

Other signs of asthma can include:

  • chronic cough
  • a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Pain when breathing cold air

Warning: asthma is a very serious disease. They think: maybe I have asthma? Then go to the doctor. The doctor will examine you and give you all the important information.

What can you do about asthma?

There is no cure for asthma. But asthma can often be treated well with medication. There are different forms of asthma. And the asthma can vary in severity. Therefore, the doctor must precisely determine the treatment for each patient. With the right treatment, patients can control their asthma well.

These things are important for treating asthma:

1. Medicines. The doctor must prescribe the correct medication. And the patient needs to take the medication properly.

2. Regular visits to the doctor. See your doctor regularly. The doctor checks: does the treatment help? Or maybe the treatment needs to be adjusted?

3. Avoid triggers. Do you know what triggers your asthma attacks? Then avoid contact with the triggers as much as possible.

4. Training. There are specific training courses for people with asthma. During the training you will learn, for example:

  • How do I have to take the medication?
  • What should I do if I have an asthma attack?

5. Further measures.

These things may also help with asthma:

  • correct breathing technique
  • regular exercise
  • no stress
  • Vacation in a different climate

Note: You can obtain precise information on the measures from your doctor.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about asthma? You can find more information about asthma here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.