For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening attack.

This is a condition in which a person’s airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus.

This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a wheezing sound- when you breathe out- and shortness of breath.

Experts say that even though asthma cannot be cured, its symptoms can be controlled hence it is important to talk to your doctor to know the signs and symptoms.

According to the World Health Organisation, the condition affects both children and adults and is the most common chronic disease among children.

“Asthma is often under-diagnosed and under-treated. People with under-treated asthma can suffer sleep disturbance, tiredness during the day and poor concentration,” WHO cautions.

The global health agency links an increased risk of developing asthma to a number of factors but says it is often difficult to find a single direct cause.

The factors include exposure to a range of environmental allergens and irritants including indoor and outdoor air pollution, house dust mites, moulds, and occupational exposure to chemicals, fumes or dust.

Children and adults who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of asthma but is more likely to affect people with allergenic conditions such as eczema.

Exposure to tobacco smoke and other sources of air pollution, as well as viral respiratory infections at an early part of one’s life, can also be risk factors.

“Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal active life,” WHO says.

“People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available,” it adds.

According to Mayo Clinic, an online medical site, severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening hence the need to know when to see a doctor.

For instance, signs of emergency may include rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing.

Lack of improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler or shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity.

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