Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways (tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs).

Overview and Symptoms
If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are swollen. The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When the airways react, they get narrower, and less air flows through to your lung tissue.

Common asthma symptoms include wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning.

Many studies have shown that children and adults with asthma also may be allergic to things that usually do not cause problems in others. Their immune systems overreact when they come in contact with everyday substances such as pollens, mold, or pet dander. In some cases, the immune system may overreact to other substances, such as a virus or bacteria, and increase the risk of asthma.


Asthma cannot be cured, but most people with asthma can control it so that they have few and infrequent symptoms and can live active lives. Asthma treatment includes:

  • Working closely with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan, decide what your treatment goals are, and learn how to meet those goals
  • Avoiding triggers that bring on your asthma symptoms or make your symptoms worse
  • Quick-relief and long-term control asthma medicines
  • Allergy medicine and shots may also help control asthma in some people

Division of Allergy & Inflammation

The Division of Allergy & Inflammation specializes in the diagnosis, testing, and management of allergies, asthma and allergic immune system disorders.

Learn More