Not as easy an answer as for most medical conditions because of great variability in causes, severity and symptoms. Cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and exercise limitations are common asthma symptoms, though may be present in other conditions as well.
From a textbook standpoint, “muscle spasm causing a narrowing of the airways” is the most common feature and is responsive to the quick, but short-acting albuterol inhalers. But the major change of viewpoint over the last few decades is the recognition that inflammation or swelling of the airway lining is often the most important aspect to address its successful treatment. This often requires the use of either inhaled or systemic steroids like Montelukast Singulair which doesn’t work quickly, and must be used regularly, at least for intervals.
The inflammation also leads to a “twitchiness” of the lung tissue, making asthmatics more sensitive to a number of stimuli including exercise, allergens, irritants, weather, and others.
While a complex condition, the good news is that while under the care of your allergy/asthma specialist, asthma is a very treatable and responsive condition and should only infrequently restrict the patient’s activities.
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