Articles, Blog

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

November 6, 2019

It starts with a cough, or a wheeze. Soon, your chest feels tight. Your breathing speeds up
and gets shallower, making you feel short of breath. These are common symptoms
of an asthma attack. Around the world, more than 300 million
people suffer from asthma, and around 250,000 people
die from it each year. But why do people get asthma
and how can this disease be deadly? Asthma affects the respiratory system, particularly the smaller airways, such as the bronchi and bronchioles. These airways have an inner lining
called the mucosa that’s surrounded
by a layer of smooth muscle. In people with asthma, the airways
are chronically inflamed, which can make them hyper-responsive
to certain triggers. Some of the many asthma triggers
include tobacco smoke, pollen, dust, fragrances, exercise, cold weather, stress, and even the common cold. When people with asthma are exposed
to these triggers, an asthma attack, or exacerbation,
can occur. But how exactly do such everyday factors
lead to an asthma attack? If an asthmatic is exposed to a trigger, the smooth rings of muscle that circle
the small airways in their lungs contract and become narrow. Simultaneously, the trigger
worsens inflammation, causing the mucosal lining
to become more swollen and secrete more mucus. Under normal conditions, the body uses this mucus to trap
and clear particles, like pollen or dust, but during an asthma attack, it blocks the narrowed airways,
making it even harder to breathe. These effects lead
to this symptoms of asthma. Smooth muscle constriction results
in the feeling of chest tightness. Excess mucus and increased inflammation
can cause coughing. And the wheezing noise? That happens because
as the airways constrict, air whistles as it passes through
the narrowed space. These symptoms may make a person
feel like they’re running out of air. Yet counterintuitively,
during an asthma attack, the inflammation can make it harder
to exhale than inhale. Over time, this leads to an excess
of air in the lungs, a phenomenon known as hyperinflation. The trapping of air inside the lungs
forces the body to work harder to move air in and out of them. Over time, this can lead to reduced oxygen
delivery to the body’s organs and tissues. Sometimes, in untreated
severe asthma attacks, the body can’t keep up, which can lead to death from
lack of oxygen. So how do we prevent these uncomfortable
and potentially fatal attacks in people who have asthma? One way is to reduce the presence
of triggers. Unfortunately, the world
is an unpredictable place and exposure to triggers can’t
always be controlled. This is where inhalers, the primary
treatment for asthma, come in. These medications help asthmatics both
control and prevent their asthma symptoms. Inhalers transport medication along
the affected airways using a liquid mist or fine powder
to treat the problem at its source. They come in two forms. There are reliever medications, which treat symptoms immediately
and contain beta-agonists. Beta-agonists relax constricted muslces, allowing the airways to widen so more air
can travel into and out of the lungs. The other form of inhalers serve
as preventive medications, which treat asthma symptoms
over the long term, and contain corticosteroids. Corticosteroids reduce airway sensitivity
and inflammation, so asthma can be kept under control. They’re also crucial in preventing
long-term damage from chronic inflammation, which can cause scarring of the airways. Inhalers are known to be very effective, and have helped many people
live better lives. Although we’ve come a long way
in improving how we treat and diagnose asthma, we still don’t know its exact causes. We currently believe that a combination
of genetic and environmental factors play a role, potentially acting during early childhood. Recent research has even linked
poverty to asthma incidents. This may be due to reasons ranging from exposure to additional pollutants
and environmental irritants to difficulties in obtaining medical care
or treatment. As our understanding of asthma improves, we can continue to find better ways to
keep people’s airways happy and healthy.


  • Reply Red-Pan,Strawberry-Cake and Stripes! GAMING September 19, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    I have it I DONT WANNA DIE.

  • Reply Hobonuut - September 20, 2019 at 2:18 am

    When you get tired from running for 2 minutes and self-diagnose yourself with asthma

  • Reply Mikidaway Nation September 20, 2019 at 2:19 am

    I will be healed?

  • Reply nad September 20, 2019 at 3:40 am

    I clicked the video because I have shortness of breath (that might be an asthma attack idk) when I write or copy essays that are more than 3 paragraphs. I don’t know why it happens so I pressed this video.

    edit: but i dont have asthma ?

  • Reply kabir jalota September 21, 2019 at 6:43 am

    Poor boy
    I kept saying that throughout the video

  • Reply Girl Oscar-Wilde September 21, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    I had no idea people could die from asthma attacks. Wow.

  • Reply First name Last name September 22, 2019 at 6:47 am

    I’m so glad I only get Asthma like symptoms when I’m sick.

  • Reply Jade Harper September 23, 2019 at 10:30 am

    I wish I didn’t have asthma every one and my teacher thinks I make it up ?

  • Reply Repletack Main September 24, 2019 at 5:58 am

    *cough Hopefully I'll be fine *cough

  • Reply AlexTheGamer xd September 24, 2019 at 11:38 am

    My brothers have asthma, and i need to take care of them when we come back from school.

  • Reply Sensei AQW September 24, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    My classroom is at the 5th floor of our school, everyday is great *tries to hide my feeling*

  • Reply Brxnte September 24, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Does anyone’s inhalers give them severe pounding headaches?

  • Reply Slm Abrams September 24, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    I really think I have asthma and here is why:
    1-I can’t run with out hurting my lungs !
    2- when I get scared or excited my lungs seems to not work.
    3- when working out I’m taking brakes to breath… I tell my trainer that I can’t breath he says tough it out. My lungs felt locked
    4- at night or sleepy I can yawn ( my lungs feel like the oxygen won’t go in, because it has air already in not leaving)
    Should I see a doctor ? I went before and they say all is well but maybe I should tell them I might have asthma ?

  • Reply That Guy September 25, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Is it possible for the lung tissue to rupture from hyperinflation?

  • Reply Helga von den Schnitzelbergen September 25, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Asthmatics also have it hard to call for help, as lack of air results in inability to make a sound. We know from physics that in order to make a sound, vibrations need to be created, which can only happen in a room filled with air. Lack of air = no vibrations, no sound.
    This happened to me once, when I had my first asthma attack. You can't draw anyone's attention. You just wait for someone to notice you can't breathe.

  • Reply Aleksandra Calovic/Vulovic September 25, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    i have asthma from my 6th month of my life

  • Reply fantaio September 25, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    I got asthma atack at this video

  • Reply Max Faust September 26, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Do not forget nepyoulisers

  • Reply B MANZO September 26, 2019 at 1:40 am

    My question is, how did they figure this out? Did someone open up a patient who had asthma and carved into the lungs? Or did an Xray manage to catch this phenomenon? Or is this a theory seen as fact? Oh, you have trouble breathing, inhale this to feel better. Why can't we just make something to cure asthma for good? Why does everything have to be profited off of?

  • Reply Amon Moseley September 26, 2019 at 4:21 am

    I have asthma and have to run a 5k (3.107) miles tomorrow and I’m so scared something is gonna go wrong or I’m gonna get made fun of because my time is gonna be horrible

  • Reply FatimaxFlores September 26, 2019 at 6:06 am

    Am I the only who cries when they have asthma I feel like I’m gonna die ?

  • Reply Abhijith Madhu September 26, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Severe asthma is so hard to compete against. You feel completely tired and fed up of breathing as if you have lost control over your brain. This is when those suicidal thoughts generate.

  • Reply CoNfUsIoN September 26, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Im watching this while Im suffering from asthma now im scared that i will die

  • Reply Handful of Baby Carrots September 26, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    I feel like I kinda have it because I feel like I can never catch my breath. In phy ed I'm wheezing and my chest hurts so much

  • Reply Vin Ro4 September 28, 2019 at 3:51 am

    watching this made me puff twice

  • Reply Vincent Cantoria September 28, 2019 at 5:37 am

    can asthma occur in overdosing vaccines, or just right dose of vaccines?

  • Reply M A September 28, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    One of my fellow asthma friends went to a new doctor and was told she has anxiety about running not asthma. Far. From. True.

  • Reply Jack's staph Infection September 28, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Do not judge me,I just remembered Eddie kaspbrak

  • Reply Olivernan! Crno Bijeli Svijet September 28, 2019 at 7:17 pm


    ? Hahahah Rip Beanos

  • Reply aidyboy150 September 28, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Life noggin viewers also watch…

  • Reply yuh yeet September 29, 2019 at 11:37 am

    I don't have asthma. To all people with asthma here, what does it feel like?

  • Reply 愛 Broken Visuals September 29, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    Don’t you just hate when you get asthma at night and you have to try to find a inhaler or that thing we have to get on if the inhaler doesn’t work it just feels like you’re gonna die it’s the worst experience anyone who has asthma could ever get such a sad affect on our body’s the people who doesn’t has asthma wouldn’t understand a single thing

  • Reply Holly Clark September 30, 2019 at 1:25 am

    The most terrifying feeling in the world: trying to breathe and you only get resistance

  • Reply X00X Playz September 30, 2019 at 11:22 am

    well i barely died from asthma

  • Reply I Like Turtles October 1, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    am i the only one here without asthma

  • Reply That One Viewer October 1, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    To be honest, I have moderately serious asthma all my life, however, most people with asthma have mild asthma, and don't have it for that long ( like childhood asthma or a decade or-so long term).
    So for all of those people who have asthma, I feel you and I know what you mean by it.

    (btw i have learned some new and cool things from this video. I also love the ted-ed videos too :D)

  • Reply franzgamer1 franzgamer1 October 2, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Damn its hard to breathe

  • Reply Punnoose Kc October 3, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Ph +91 9288801811

  • Reply Edwin Benedicto October 4, 2019 at 5:35 am

    I have been a regular smoker to this day and an asthmatic. I always had asthma since birth. I’m 48 now but surprisingly strange enough cigarettes somehow do not appear to trigger or affect my asthma or give me an attack ! But I found myself more likely sensitive to many allergies such as house dust , perfumes, pet dander/fur, extreme heat or cold ,severe emotions such as anger, anxiety, etc. Only to name a few . These I could say, can practically kill me ! But Despite my condition I can still manage to get to enjoy smoking. Or else I woulda quit long before.

  • Reply Mari Night wing October 4, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Weel… my siter has ashma

  • Reply Wild Introvert October 5, 2019 at 5:17 am

    “250 Million People Die From It Each Year”

    Me: scared sounds

  • Reply XR Animates October 5, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    After I drink water I choke and cough a lot of times then plema comes out

  • Reply HealthSketch October 6, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    We made a new simple explainer video for asthma: – helpful for patients and their families!

  • Reply Miss Annah iP October 7, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    I have a Asthma since I'm born but in my Elementary days I can run fast or anything doing a normal people but when Im turn to 19 after I smelled the Spray paint it was back and now I'm not able to run or hiking or bring heavy things ..

    As of now its been 4 days I can't Breath normal I need to take deep breath..
    ❌ Too much water/food
    ❌ heavy things
    ❌ easy tired of talking/ shouting
    ❌ strong winds
    ❌ smoke of fire/ Cigarette

    I'm Depressed so it's okay till I can't breath ? don't wanna go to check up?

  • Reply R1HN0 October 7, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    i felt like i was having an asthma attack while i was watching thus

  • Reply Schweizer Joenz October 8, 2019 at 1:37 am

    The bad old asthma. I just hate it but have to bear with it.

  • Reply Not your friend October 8, 2019 at 4:03 am

    I don't have asthma,but seeing this video made my heart beat faster and made me feel hard to breathe
    What the heck

  • Reply Jotaro Kujo October 8, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    I remember in 5th grade,I was screaming and I had my first asthma attack.I fell over because of the shock and since I was unaware of what was going on I tried to scream again but what came out was this inhuman screeching noise,and according to my friends my eyes because red and tears ran down my cheeks.I started to recover and I started screaming in pain again,and then after a few minutes of screeching and tumbling,I was back to normal.My friends ran away from me because they thought I got possessed from Satan-

  • Reply Madeline Theater October 11, 2019 at 1:14 am

    Had an asthma attack on the middle of gym once from the running

    My teachers response: walk me back and fourth across the gym and ask if I actually need to go down to the office every lap. As I’m crying, struggling to breathe, and about to turn purple

  • Reply Clay controlz October 11, 2019 at 4:15 am

    I had Asthma before and did not die I had to take that inhaler every 3 hours

  • Reply JamesTheFox October 12, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I used to have asthma, luckily I don’t have it anymore but I feel sorry for the people who still have it

  • Reply Hala Alterkawi October 13, 2019 at 12:14 am

    Bro who is haven’t a asthma attack and watching THISE I am

  • Reply Goveto Vato and gosa fused October 13, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    My dad has asma my sister and brother dose but I don’t

  • Reply レレš†ψレïšh October 14, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    i have asthma

    and i almost die

  • Reply a bottle of vodka October 15, 2019 at 1:54 am

    We get it you b a p e

  • Reply Balder Suen October 15, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Maybe I have now aaaaaaaaa

  • Reply Typhoon of Ideas October 15, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Really informative, thanks.

  • Reply I’m in Agony October 16, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Now I know how my lungs don’t work

  • Reply The Video Game Gameplayer October 17, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Ayy…where my 99.99999966666% of asthma bois at?

  • Reply Neroify October 17, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    thank god i don't have asthma

  • Reply F Sch October 18, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I had Asthma from 6 to 14 years of age.
    Nobody ever believed me when I said that smoke made me get Asthma attacks. They always acted like it wasnt real. Some people in my class would try to trigger me hard until I got so angry that I couldnt breath anymore. I told them I could die and they laughed.
    Worst Time of my life

  • Reply Bestcool5 October 18, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Okay I don’t want asthma but I kinda feel coughs during weekdays because my smart big brain teacher put me beside the air conditioner and when I say close it people at the back of the class say no it’s hot and then we want to change seats but my teacher says no

  • Reply Leandro Balboa October 19, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Hey my mom said that nebulizer is like a inhaler. Can you tell me what is the difference between inhaler and nebulizer??

  • Reply Michael Barefield October 19, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Buncha fuckin normies

  • Reply Mathew Sun October 20, 2019 at 3:41 am

    I have asthma and I live in China and China has a lot of pollution and smokers so unlucky
    1 like= 1 lucky kid

  • Reply Peach Jam October 20, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Sometimes I'm not having an attack but it still feels like I can't really breath so I just sit there and try taking deeper breaths.

  • Reply LIL_guh ARIE October 21, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    I have asthma!?

  • Reply your creepy emo cousin October 22, 2019 at 3:13 am

    Sometimes i feel like everyone in my gym class thinks I'm lazy and out of shape, but the truth is that i just cant do things like they can

  • Reply A. Randolph October 22, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Too bad its $160 for an inhaler.

  • Reply ONEHITKILL October 23, 2019 at 3:19 am

    I'm lucky I dont have asthma yet

  • Reply The Unknown October 23, 2019 at 3:27 am

    Scary stuff I wonder how people lived back in the days without today's medicals

  • Reply Clasher October 24, 2019 at 1:50 am

    Who came here after Greg Hardy?

  • Reply marwah maher October 24, 2019 at 3:57 am

    That's very useful.thanks for sharing the knowledge ??

  • Reply Ingrid October 24, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    TED-Ed: Some of the many astma triggers include stress, exercise, cold weather, pollen, dust, fragrances…

    Me: soo basically life

  • Reply Doc. FunkBlack October 24, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    I have an asthmatic friend who started smoking. He's insane.

  • Reply social butterfly October 25, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    I live in India. POLLUTION at it's peak…and I get asthmatic every day.. Nothing more to say ? wish I can migrate to a better country

  • Reply eunice cristi October 25, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    vomiting is the worst, feel like dying when it gets to vomiting

  • Reply Hyperultima gaming October 25, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    I have asthma too

  • Reply New Notification October 26, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Me Takes big breath in and blows out*

  • Reply LEAH October 28, 2019 at 2:35 am

    If I don’t die from a freak accident or murder my asthma definitely will kill me lmao

  • Reply LEAH October 28, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Wow 2:01 is a good visual of how it feels ?

  • Reply Yachiru Chan October 28, 2019 at 4:12 am

    I have asthma, and yesterday I had real short breath. It felt like I ran for so long. But I didn't run. I was in bed. Be glad you don't have it. It's hard but not for long, Because I have two different types of inhalers. Peace

  • Reply Chui Chui October 28, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Chinese medicine can cure asthma

  • Reply IAmAsianYang Yang October 29, 2019 at 3:44 am

    Haha I had to be one of the million 🙁

  • Reply I Jayawardena October 29, 2019 at 8:21 am

    worse part is with asthma you get eczema .

  • Reply Ali Finesse October 30, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Who else was feeling like they couldn’t breathe?

  • Reply Ahmina Bonteri October 31, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Mucosal muscles have left the chat.

  • Reply Azryne アズリン October 31, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I think I have asthma do I get it checked out? I’ll post a video if I get it check out

  • Reply Bagaskara November 1, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    I vape with inhaler,, people always pretend that they asthma then they said that their asthma is already gone parmanently i hate people like that they don't how inhaler felt very bad what they know is asthma just a hard breath and easy to make it gone no,, no its not hey to you that pretend to be asthma for a nice treatment try to tie yiur neck that how i feel i better die than living like this,, without inhaler my choice is death

  • Reply TheOnly X November 2, 2019 at 12:48 am

    Well it’s harder for me to breathe but I have no asthma

  • Reply Zedhan Zahi November 2, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Heyyyyyyy psst HEY! yes you…… give me a dollar and I'll give a snicker bar then I'll plant this tree I MEAN Dollar and I will 20M trees until 2020 1 dollar =1 tree ? #teamtrees just try to find a website that says ⬅️ or click this

  • Reply •Tommie Bryner• November 2, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    I am actually scared for my life.
    I inherited asthma from my african father and i wasnt able to see him nor know him since he died in a plane. He was frightened by the turbulence so his asthma kicked in.


  • Reply Alsesha Sycamore November 2, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    I nearly died from my first ever asthma attack when I was 7?
    It was at night and my parents rushed me to hospital just in time,if they hadn't I would've died.

  • Reply Adrian Paul Alfafara November 3, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Got my asthma recently, during my training to be in my country's military. I just caught it out of who knows from what trigger during the third month.

    I couldn't believe it at first. But after I got it, I could no longer perform the exercises I used to laugh at without struggling for air by the 10th repetition (I used to do up to 100 without tiring) including other tasks that are part of the training.

    There goes my dreams to serve in. What a dream breaker.
    Still in the dispensary, recovering as of this writing.

    All the lucky ones who dont have asthma just dont know how lucky they are. I used to laugh at asthma too, until I got it.

  • Reply Jordan Zubich November 3, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    I don't know if I have asthma I run so fast then I can't breath out of my nose but thank you for helping me

  • Reply Wooft November 4, 2019 at 12:40 pm


  • Reply Arch Angel Hans November 4, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Mine died down but comes back strong when I eat curry

  • Reply Anti Zionist November 4, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    ???????? i m going to die

  • Reply PGI CREW November 5, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Tge most important thing you need to do when asthma attack is to calm…not to move..not to talk..after 20 years of having asthma, I know that. And I can drive to hospital by myself during asthma attack. remember guys…try to be as calm as possible. No sudden move, no talking don't even smile. You'll make it.


  • Reply Noob Guy November 5, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    I have asthma
    They have asthma
    If they’re suffering
    Then I feel the way they feel too

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