William and Mary


Asthma is inflammation of the airway that causes difficulty breathing. Asthma is thought to result from an interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms of asthma include:
  • cough
  • wheezing
  • chest tightness or pressure
  • shortness of breath.

A "trigger" for asthma is something that induces changes in the airway that lead to symptoms of asthma. Potential triggers for asthma include inhaled allergens (pollen ,dander, mold spores), viral illness, cold weather, exercise, and inhaled pollutants.

Asthma control

Recognition and avoidance of triggers (if possible) are an important step in asthma control. If triggers can't be avoided, controlling response to triggers may help. An example is using allergy medicines to decrease factors that can increase risk of airway reactivity.

  • For occasional asthma, such as that induced by exercise, using a quick-acting inhaler (such as albuterol) prior to exercise, can help prevent symptoms.
  • For more severe asthma, a controller medication such as an inhaled steroid, or a leukotriene inhibitor such as Singulair, needs to be used on a regular basis, with a bronchodilator such as albuterol used for rescue.

Additional information on asthma can be found at or