Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.
It is a condition that involves broncho-spasm (tightness and wheezing) and inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Asthma commonly runs in families, especially when there is also a history of allergies.
Our key message is this: If you have asthma, it is vital to get advice from your local surgery on how to manage it. We recommend that everyone with asthma should be seen at least once each year by their GP or asthma nurse to ensure their symptoms are well-controlled. This is particularly important if you have allergies as well.
Asthma in people with allergies
Evidence suggests that poorly-controlled asthma will raise the chances of any allergic reaction being severe. If your asthma is troublesome and not well-controlled, and you have an allergic reaction to a food or substance, the reaction could be much more serious.
Treatments for asthma
Short-acting reliever inhalers (usually blue in colour) treat asthma symptoms by relaxing the airways quickly to allow you to breathe more easily. Preventer inhalers (usually brown in colour) help prevent asthma symptoms by reducing swelling and inflammation in the airways. Taking your preventer inhaler regularly means you are less likely to have asthma symptoms or asthma attacks. Your GP or asthma nurse should advise you on how often to take your preventer inhaler.
Our text has been peer-reviewed by Sue Clarke, Nurse Adviser to the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Disclosure: Sue Clarke received an honorarium for consultation work for Bausch and Lomb in 2019.
All the information we produce is evidence based or follows expert opinion and is checked by our clinical and research reviewers. If you wish to know the sources we used in producing any of our information products, please let us know, and we will gladly supply details. Call 01252 542029 or email [email protected].
Publication date: June 2019
Review date: June 2022