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 What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the air passages of the lungs.  Because of inflammation, the airways are unusually sensitive and react to stimulation from many kinds of irritants and allergens by constricting, producing mucus and swelling.  When these reactions take place, an individual generally experiences reduced ability to breathe and may cough, wheeze and feel short of breath.  This reaction may happen very quickly or over an extended period of time with minor or major impact on a person’s ability to function.  Depending on an individual’s level of control, episodes may be very frequent or very infrequent.  Control may vary depending on the time of year and other conditions.

The goal of asthma treatment is to control asthma so that there are no symptoms.  Control of asthma is accomplished by learning about how to manage the disease with controlling medication and controlling asthma triggers in the environment.  Controlling medication is most often an inhaled corticosteroid and may also include a long-acting bronchodilator and or an anti-leukotriene.  Only on those rare occasions when asthma symptoms occur should someone require a short-acting bronchodilator like albuterol.

The ODH Asthma Program

The ODH Asthma Program works with other organizations to improve the systems of care for asthma in Ohio and to assist other organizations to improve asthma care.  It does this through gathering and analyzing asthma data through the Ohio Surveillance System for Asthma and by working with the Ohio Administrative Code and other local asthma coalitions throughout the state.

The Asthma Program is supported by Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number 5U59EH000511-03 under Program Announcement EH09-901 “Addressing Asthma from a Public Health Perspective” from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents of this Web page are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.


Mailing Address:
Ohio Department of Health
Asthma Program
246 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Telephone: (614) 466-1390
Fax: (614) 466-4556


Last reviewed 3/10/15