Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways of your lungs. Your airways are the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. 

■ Cough—often dry and can have harsh bursts

■ Wheezing—a whistling sound mainly when you breathe out through narrowed airways

■ Chest tightness

■ Shortness of breath which may occur with activity or even at rest

When you are having a problem with asthma, you may feel like you are breathing through a straw because it is hard to move air through your narrowed airways. Cough is often a first symptom of an asthma problem. Cough most often occurs at night or early in the morning. While asthma is a chronic disease, you may not have symptoms every day. You may have days with cough, wheeze and/or shortness of breath and other days when you feel completely fine. If you have symptoms often and/ or they are interfering with your activities, you should talk to your healthcare provider. An “asthma attack” means rapid and severe worsening of your asthma. If you think you are having an asthma attack, follow the emergency (red zone) Action Plan that you developed with your healthcare provider. If you are not getting better, or getting worse, you should immediately seek emergency care.