In a nutshell
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease. People who have asthma suffer from inflamed airways.
When an asthma attack occurs, the smooth muscle cells in the bronchial tubes constrict, the airway tubes become inflamed, swollen and very sensitive and tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances.
When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways may make more mucus than normal. Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow your airways.
This chain reaction can result in asthma symptoms where breathing is difficult and symptoms usually displayed include night-time coughing, shortness of breath with exertion, a chronic ‘throatclearing’ type cough, and complaints of a tight feeling in the chest
Symptoms can happen each time the airways are inflamed
Sometimes, asthma symptoms are mild and go away on their own or after minimal treatment with an asthma medicine. Other times, symptoms continue to get worse. When symptoms get more intense and/or more symptoms occur, you're having an asthma attack. Asthma attacks also are called flare-ups or exacerbations.
It's important to treat symptoms when you first notice them. This will help prevent the symptoms from worsening and causing a severe asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal.
Asthma can't be cured.
Even when you feel fine, you still have the disease and it can flare up at any time.However, with today's knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They have few, if any, symptoms. They can live normal, active lives and sleep through the night without interruption from asthma.