What happens during an asthma attack?
When your asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma episode or attack. Not all asthma attacks are the same. Some are worse than others. There are four things that contribute to an asthma attack:
- Hypersensitivity – Once the airways have been exposed to a trigger, they become easily irritated with repeated exposure.
- Bronchospasm – The muscles around the airways tighten up & make the airways smaller.
- Inflammation – The airways become swollen & irritated. This also makes the airways smaller & makes breathing more difficult.
- Mucus production – Inflamed airways produce excess mucus which clogs the already narrowed openings.
Airways are tubes through which air passes on the way to and through the lungs. The following illustration shows the difference between a normal airway and one in the midst of an asthma attack.