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What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways - the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (an asthma trigger), the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell. Sometimes, sticky mucus or phlegm builds up, which can further narrow the airways. These reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated - making it difficult to breath and leading to symptoms of asthma.[1]

Asthma can cause a variety of symptoms, including breathing difficulties and sudden episodes of breathlessness. Your asthma symptoms may change over time or in different situations. Always talk to your doctor if your asthma symptoms worsen. It may be a sign that your asthma is not under control. You can take the Asthma Control Test to get a snapshot of how well your asthma has been controlled over the last four weeks, giving you a simple score out of 25.

Asthma triggers

Asthma triggers are allergens or conditions that may cause sudden symptoms. Keep track of everything that causes your sudden asthma symptoms. Avoiding your personal asthma triggers is the most effective way to control your symptoms.
Below is a list of 14 common asthma triggers, visit the Asthma triggers page of the Asthma Society of Ireland website for more information.

  • Animals
  • Air pollutants
  • Colds & viral infections
  • Emotions
  • Exercise
  • Food
  • Hormones
  • House-dust mites
  • Medicines
  • Moulds & fungi
  • Pollen
  • Sex
  • Smoking
  • Weather

Please note that this information does not constitute personal medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider (e.g. GP, nurse) if you have any questions on how to manage your Asthma)



  1. Date of access: June 2020

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