Meet Alicia. She loves riding her bike, but lately it has not been much fun.
Alicia has been having a lot of coughing and wheezing episodes. When this happens she suddenly feels like her lungs are getting tight, making it hard to breathe. Alicia's mom decided to take her to see Dr. Goodley.
He asks her lots of questions and tests her breathing by having her blow in and out of a tube called a spirometer. Alicia finds out that she has asthma.
She learns that asthma attacks happen when a person's airways get swollen and make a gooey substance called mucus. This is what makes breathing difficult for Alicia sometimes.
Many things can bring on, or trigger, an asthma attack: dust, pollen, pollution, strong smells, fur or feathers from animals, cold air, exercise and even stress. Alicia finds out that not all asthma patients have the same triggers and they can change over time.
There is no cure for asthma, but Alicia can do things to help control over her symptoms. She is keeping a diary to learn which things trigger her attacks so she can avoid them if possible. The family is dusting more often now and she stays inside on days when it is very cold or there is a lot of pollen in the air outside.
There are two types of medicines that can help with her sytmptoms. Controllers are taken every day to help keep the airways open. They can be pills, liquid or an inhaler. Relievers are taken when an asthma attack comes on. Relievers, or "rescue" inhalers work fast to relax the airways. In time, Alicia will learn which treatments work best for her.