ASTHMA Asthma is a condition that affects the breathing tubes (bronchioles) in the lungs. During an asthma attack the muscles in these tubes tighten, causing the bronchioles to contract and shrink.

A person suffering from an asthma attack finds it very difficult to breathe, and this can often be accompanied by a wheezing noise and/or cough. Usually it is more difficult to breathe out than in, and the wheezing is more noticeable when breathing out. As the person gasps and labours, little fresh air is taken into the lungs and stale air within them becomes trapped. The sense of impending suffocation along with an irritating cough combines to be a thoroughly frightening experience.

Most asthma attacks can be quickly relieved with bronchodilatory medication. However, severe attacks can stretch into long, drawn-out periods in which the sufferer becomes exhausted. If an asthma attack is not treated properly and promptly, it can lead to collapse and even death. Asthma is an unpredictable and often long-term disability, striking at different times and in various ways. Attacks may begin suddenly and without warning, or more slowly over hours and even days.People with chronic asthma may have persistent symptoms for many months without remission, but with modern treatment most asthmatics find their asthma can be controlled.

In Australia the metered dose inhaler (puffer) is the most common method used to manage asthma. All asthma inhalers use chlorofluorocarbons as their propellant and have been granted exempt status under the Ozone Protection Act. Until an equally safe and satisfactory replacement becomes available, it is very important that asthmatics use their medication as prescribed. Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children and adolescents. It is also the most common reasons for admission into public hospitals by young people. [Source: The Asthma Foundation]

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