What is Asthma? 

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways, or in other words the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. 

When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (an asthma trigger), the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell. Sometimes, sticky mucus or phlegm builds up, which can further narrow the airways.   These reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated - making it difficult to breath and leading to symptoms of asthma.

What causes Asthma?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of asthma, but children are more likely to develop the condition if there’s a family history of either asthma, eczema or other allergies.  It's likely that this family history, combined with certain environmental factors, influences whether or not someone develops asthma. 

Many aspects of modern lifestyles - such as changes in housing and diet and a more hygienic environment - may have contributed to the rise in asthma over the past few decades. Environmental pollution can make asthma symptoms worse and may play a part in some cases.

What to do if asthma is getting worse? 

Its vital children have good asthma control. See definition here. If control is poor see a GP to get advice or demand a referral to hospital / private health service.

Think about the following?

1. Does my child have asthma?

2. Is my child taking the medicine correctly? Do I have an asthma plan?

3. Is my child allergic to something? 80% of children with asthma are allergic

4. Does my child have hayfever?


I have written this document about poorly controlled asthma. I have helped a study looking at why asthma sufferers die and what can we learn from this. I have published this paper for GPs about asthma in 2013. For more information about asthma, visit


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