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What is asthma?

A long-term (chronic) lung disease, asthma is an irritation and swelling in the airways that carry air in and out of your lungs. Swelling makes the airways narrow, so it's harder for you to breathe. The airways may make more mucus than normal, which also makes breathing harder.


How is asthma treated?

Your healthcare provider may prescribe two kinds of medicine to treat your asthma: one to help control your asthma and another to help you manage an asthma attack if one occurs.


* Take a controller medicine every day as prescribed to keep your asthma under control from day to day. This will help you control the inflammation so you feel and breathe better. You won't become "addicted" to this medicine. You need to take it every day to keep your asthma from getting worse over time.


* Take a quick-relief (or rescue) medicine if you have an asthma attack. This medicine works faster than a controller medicine if your symptoms suddenly get worse. It opens up your airways so you can breathe easier.



What is an asthma attack?

Because you have asthma, dust, smoke, and other irritating substances may trigger an asthma attack, which includes wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing, and a tight feeling in your chest. Treat an asthma attack with quick-relief medicine, which comes in the form of a handheld device called an asthma inhaler. Always keep your inhaler with you in case you have an unexpected asthma attack. If your inhaler doesn't help for very long or not at all, you need to seek emergency care immediately.


What is an asthma inhaler?

An asthma inhaler is a handheld device that delivers the right dose of medicine directly to the lungs. There are two different kinds:


* Metered-dose inhalers consist of a pressurized canister that contains the medicine and a mouthpiece. Pressing down on the inhaler releases a mist of medicine that you breathe into your lungs.Some metered-dose inhalers come with a spacer, or holding chamber, which makes it easier to use.


* Dry powder inhalers don't contain a propellant. Instead, you inhale the medicine by taking a deep, fast breath through the inhaler.



Whichever type of inhaler you use, make sure you use it correctly so the medicine reaches your lungs. Carefully follow the instructions that came with your inhaler and ask your nurse, healthcare provider, or pharmacist for a demonstration.


The type of asthma inhaler you use depends on what type of medicine you need; whether you can take a deep, fast breath; and what's comfortable for you. Your healthcare provider will help you choose the inhaler that best fits your asthma symptoms and your lifestyle.