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 What is Asthma? Asthma is a chronic or long-term disease of the lungs. It causes sudden breathing problems known as asthma attacks. An asthma attack can range from mild to life-threatening and may come on quickly or over time. During an asthma attack, the airways narrow and produce more mucus, causing an increase in asthma symptoms. Common asthma symptoms include:

  • Cough (especially at night)
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Chest tightness
  • Limitations in activity

 The airways in the lungs of people with asthma are more sensitive to some things they breathe such as mold and dust. They can also be sensitive to tobacco smoke, viruses, cold air and exercise. All of these are examples of triggers.  Exposure to triggers can cause asthma symptoms and can cause an asthma attack. Triggers vary from person to person. People with asthma have triggers that are specific to them.

The actual cause of asthma is unknown. The lungs of people with asthma remain sensitive even when they do not show asthma symptoms. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled. Asthma medicine and avoidance of triggers can control symptoms. It is possible to live a normal, active life with asthma by working closely with a health care provider to develop a treatment plan called an Asthma Action Plan.

Learn more about The ODH Asthma Program

Learn more about The ODH Asthma Program Strategic Evaluation Plan.


Videos produced by: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center


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

Fax: (614) 564-2503


Page Updated: 1/22/2018