What is Asthma?


If you have asthma or have a friend or relative with asthma, then you probably know it is a condition affecting the lungs and making it more difficult to breath at times.

Asthma is a long lasting inflammatory (swelling) condition of the airways in the lungs that affects all age groups. It often starts in childhood and sometimes get less or disappears as you become an adult. For some people their asthma is a minor problem, for others the problem is much bigger, stopping them doing things they’d like to do. In some cases asthma can be life threatening.


Watch the video below to find out how you can use your mobile phone to help you with asthma. 

Dr John Alexander’s areas of expertise include paediatrics, paediatric intensive care and paediatric respiratory disease. His areas of interest are improving the quality of care using the Patient and Family Centred Care model, improving care by participating in research and quality improvement projects, increasing clinician engagement by involving colleagues in practical management training, increasing the profile of the paediatric department locally and regionally and building robust relationships with primary care colleagues.


Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Breathlessness (shortness of breath).
  • Wheeze – a whistling sound when you breathe out.
  • Chest tightness or pain in the chest.
  • Sleeping problems because of one of the symptoms above.

Symptoms vary from person to person. You may have one or more of these symptoms. Sometimes they may be mild and at other times can be worse. They are often worse first thing in the morning and at night. You may only have symptoms of asthma from time to time. Some people have them very often.


There are a number of things that can trigger symptoms. These include:

  • Being around things that can cause allergies such as pet dander (material shed from the body of animals that is similar to dandruff), pet saliva, pollen, mould, dust mites etc.

  • Cold, dry air
  • Humid air.
  • Some medications including aspirin, beta blockers, ibuprofen.
  • Workplace irritants – chemical fumes, paint, gases or dust.
  • A cold or flu.
  • Air pollution.
  • Strong emotions and stress.
  • Some food and drink additives. Fizzy drinks affect some people
  •  Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat.
  • Menstrual cycle in some women.




Take our quiz here and spot the items that can make asthma worse in our cartoon!




Have you had any visits from the Teddy Bear Hospital team or the Junior Health Society?


Find out more about FREE sessions for your school here: