How does inflammation of the airways affect my asthma?

Inflammation of the airways causes the symptoms of asthma (wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing) by restricting the airflow to and from the lungs. It does this by causing:

  • Swelling of the airways which makes them narrower.
  • Tightening of the muscles that surround the airways, making them even narrower. This is also called bronchoconstriction.
  • The production of too much mucus, which can plug up or block the airways.
  • Longer-term damage to the walls of the airways, which prevents them from opening as widely as a normal airway.

When the airways have been inflamed for a long time, they become extra-sensitive. This means that they react faster and more strongly to various triggers such as allergens, viruses, dust, smoke and stress.


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