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Asthma in Teens and Adults - What Happens

Asthma often begins during infancy or childhood, but it can start at any age. It may last throughout your life.

At times, the inflammation camera.gif from asthma causes a narrowing of your airways and mucus production. This causes asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath.

Asthma attacks and what makes them worse

Your airways narrow when they overreact to certain substances. These are known as asthma triggers. What triggers asthma symptoms varies from person to person.

When asthma symptoms suddenly occur, it is called an asthma attack (also called a flare-up or exacerbation). Asthma attacks can occur rarely or frequently. They may be mild to severe.

Although some asthma attacks occur very suddenly, many become worse gradually over a period of several days. In general, you can take care of symptoms at home by following your asthma action plan. A severe attack may need emergency treatment and in rare cases can be fatal.

Asthma is classified as intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent.

Effect on your long-term health

Asthma can raise your risk for complications from lung infections, such as acute bronchitis and pneumonia.

Even mild asthma may cause changes to the airway system. It may speed up and make worse the natural decrease in lung function that occurs as we age.

Some experts believe that asthma may raise your risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).2

Asthma during pregnancy

Asthma can occur for the first time during pregnancy, or it may change during pregnancy.

When asthma is properly controlled, a woman can have a normal pregnancy with little or no increased risk to herself or the baby. But if the asthma isn't well controlled, there are risks to the pregnant woman and the baby.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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