What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the lungs, which narrows the airways, making it more difficult for sufferers to breathe. There is no cure, but it can be managed with the right treatment and knowledge.

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Understanding Airway Inflammation

When your lungs become inflamed it causes your airways to become irritated and swollen, resulting in a decrease in airflow. What’s more, cells in the airways can also produce excessive amounts of mucus, which makes breathing even more difficult.

Icon: A Normal Airway

Normal Airway

Your airways are not inflamed, and air can pass through freely.

Icon: An Asthmatic Airway

Asthmatic Airway

Your airways are swollen, narrowing the path of airflow, making breathing more difficult.

Icon: Asthma Attack

Asthma Attack

The muscles in your lungs constrict your airways, causing breathing to become extremely difficult. Seek help immediately.

Did you know?

Not all asthma is the same.

It may be different for different people.

Talk to your healthcare provider about identifying your symptoms and the type of asthma you may have.

Types of Asthma

Myth or Fact?

When I feel fine and have no symptoms it's because my asthma has gone away.


Learn more about the facts and common misconceptions of asthma.

Myth or Fact?

Asthma Signs & Symptoms

Icon: Asthma Signs & Symptoms: Coughing
Icon: Asthma Signs & Symptoms: Wheezing
Icon: Asthma Signs & Symptoms: Shortness of Breath
Shortness of Breath
Icon: Asthma Signs & Symptoms: Chest Tightness
Chest Tightness

Image: Asthma Patient Coughing


An asthma cough is often accompanied by wheezing, is more persistent than a normal cough, can linger, and may worsen at night. Generally, an asthma cough is also a dry, unproductive cough that expels little to no phlegm or mucus.

It can feel like someone is squeezing the air out of you.

Image: Woman Wheezing


Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that occurs when you breathe in and out due to your airways being inflamed and narrowed.

It can feel like a thousand bees vibrating inside you.

Image: Man Experiencing Shortness of Breath

Shortness of Breath

This is the feeling of being unable to get enough air into your lungs to breathe properly. Depending on the severity of your asthma, it can be a frequent or occasional occurrence.

It can feel like I’m gulping for air like a fish out of water.

Image: Man Experiencing Chest Tightness

Chest Tightness

It feels like your chest being squeezed or having a heavy weight placed upon it. It can also be one of the first signs of a flare up.

It can feel like I’m breathing through a squished straw.

How Much Do You Know About Your Asthma?

The best way to find out more about your particular asthma is to talk to your doctor. The more you know about the symptoms, the more treatments you can consider for finding relief. To help you better understand how to manage your asthma, take the Asthma Control Test™ to learn more.

Take the Test

Asthma Control Test is a trademark of QualityMetric Incorporated.

Image: Asthma Patient Taking Control Test