Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the lower air passages in the lungs. It is very common worldwide and in Singapore, about one in five children have asthma.
Children with asthma have air passages that are hyper-responsive (sensitive) to triggers compared to other children. Asthma may present as recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness or coughing.
The severity of asthma differs in each child and can change with the course of time. Most children have mild asthma, and are generally well and have a few mild asthma attacks or less a year. Some children with more severe asthma may have frequent or life threatening attacks, or persistent symptoms of asthma that affect their daily activities.
Asthma attacks are usually caused by exposure to triggers, which lead to increased inflammation of the air passages. The air passages narrow and produce more mucus, leading to obstruction of the air passages and difficulty in breathing for the child. Although inflammation is worse during an asthma attack, it may also be present and ongoing even when a child with asthma appears to be well without much asthma symptoms.
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