Asthma symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed for long periods of time. When asthma symptoms become worse or more symptoms occur, it is called an asthma attack. Asthma attacks are also called flare-ups or exacerbations. During asthma attacks, symptoms may interfere with school, work, or play. For some, asthma attacks may be serious enough to warrant visits to the emergency department or hospitalization. In the worst situation, an asthma attack can cause death.
There is no single way to diagnose asthma. Asthma can be diagnosed by physicians through interviews with patients, physical examinations, trials of medications, and lung function testing. Some individuals with asthma may not be diagnosed, especially if they are not receiving adequate medical care
Asthma attacks can be caused by triggers. Triggers include pollution, pet dander, mold, pollen, exercise, tobacco, wood smoke, dust mites, or infections like the cold or flu. Each person with asthma may be susceptible to different asthma triggers. To prevent asthma attacks, it is important to minimize exposure to these asthma triggers.
Although there is no known cure for asthma, severe attacks are generally considered preventable. Once asthma is developed, it is important to manage the disease and prevent asthma attacks. For most people, asthma can be controlled by avoiding known asthma triggers when possible, with medication and regular preventative healthcare.
For more information on asthma management, visit the CDC Asthma website.