Ask the Chemist


What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways in the lungs. The airways are small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. In people with asthma, these airways are prone to be inflamed. If an asthma trigger is present, the muscles surrounding the airways contract, so it becomes more difficult to breathe. Often, extra mucus or phlegm is produced. All these reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated, leading to symptoms of asthma.

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Asthma can cause a variety of symptoms including:

  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people experience them from time to time, while a few people may have symptoms all the time.


What Causes Asthma
Unfortunately, the causes of asthma are largely unknown. Asthma can start at any age however; it most commonly starts in childhood. At least one in 10 children and one in 12 adults have asthma.

Asthma can run in families, although many people who develop asthma have no family history of asthma.

Whilst the causes of asthma are not fully known, there are treatments available to ensure people with asthma can manage their condition effectively.