What is Asthma?

Asthma (AZ-ma) is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.  Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.  The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood.  In the United States, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma.  About 7 million of these people are children.

What is COPD?

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary (PULL-mun-ary) disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe.  “Progressive” means the disease gets worse over time.

COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus (a slimy substance), wheezing, shortness or breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD.  Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke.  Long-term exposure to other lung irritants–such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust–also may contribute to COPD.

You may find some of this information helpful in managing your lung disease.