Pocket Guide for Asthma Management and Prevention


Updated December 2012

What is known about asthma?


Unfortunately…asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases, with an estimated 300 million individuals affected worldwide. Its prevalence is increasing, especially among children.


Fortunately… asthma can be effectively treated and most patients can achieve good control of their disease. When asthma is under control patients can:


  • Avoid troublesome symptoms night and day
  • Use little or no reliever medication
  • Have productive, physically active lives
  • Have (near) normal lung function
  • Avoid serious attacks


Asthma causes recurring episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Chronically inflamed airways are hyperresponsive; they become obstructed and airflow is limited (by bronchoconstriction, mucus plugs, and increased inflammation) when airways are exposed to various risk factors.


Common risk factors for asthma symptoms include exposure to allergens (such as those from house dust mites, animals with fur, cockroaches, pollens, and molds), occupational irritants, tobacco smoke, respiratory (viral) infections, exercise, strong emotional expressions, chemical irritants, and drugs (such as aspirin and beta blockers).