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Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It can affect both children and adults. Asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
During an asthma attack, the airways in your lungs get swollen and your chest feels tight. You may cough, wheeze or have trouble breathing. This happens when your lungs are exposed to a trigger, such as dust. The swelling in your lungs can occur slowly, and you may not realize it is happening.
In most cases, we don’t know what causes asthma. While there is no cure for asthma, the disease does not have to prevent you or your child from leading an active and healthy life.
The best way to take charge of asthma is to develop a plan that includes:
- Doctor Visits and Medication Management: The best way to take charge of asthma is to work with your health care provider to find the right daily medicine, and to develop a plan for how to respond to symptoms and attacks.
- Avoiding Triggers: Be aware of possible environmental triggers and how to avoid them (PDF). Triggers are different for everyone and can exist inside or outside of your home. Learn how you can get a free home assessment of indoor environmental triggers.
- Managing Asthma at School: The school needs to know if your child has asthma. That way, your child can take advantage of health programs that will help keep their asthma under control. The Open Airways for Schools curriculum teaches children with asthma how to control the condition and avoid hospital visits and absences.
- Community-based Asthma Services: The Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center has several programs that offer free counseling, education and other support services for children with asthma.