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Asthma is a condition of the lungs characterized by shortness of breath, a whistling sound from the chest known as a wheeze, and variable degrees of coughing. The hallmark of asthma is inflammation of the airways, which leads to reversible airway obstruction. Airway obstruction is most pronounced with expiration. This means that air can enter the lungs, but it becomes trapped as the airways narrow with expiration. Expiring against blocked airways produces the wheezing sound of asthma. Inflammation in the lungs is similar to inflammation elsewhere in the body and is characterized by swelling of tissue lining the airways, loss of function, increased production of mucus,  irritability of the airways with constriction of surrounding muscle. The net effect of this process that causes is that the airways become obstructed when trying to exhale.

This expiration against an obstruction produces a wheeze or whistling sound in the chest and causes shortness of breath.  Asthma is caused by allergic triggers in the majority of people. Non-allergic factors that can also trigger asthma are acid reflux otherwise known as GERD, and substances that are irritants, such a pollutants, strong odors and cigarette smoke. Physical factors that can precipitate asthma are cold air, exercise and emotional events. If the asthma occurs primarily from airborne allergens, it is called extrinsic. When no allergic cause is found for asthma, it is called intrinsic. Removing the offending allergens is the cornerstone of treatment. Medications to relieve asthma are classified as either rescue or controlling. The type you need depends on the severity and triggers of your asthma. All controlling medications are anti-inflammatory, which reverse the underlying process producing asthma.