Asthma is a common life-long chronic disease characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. The narrowing does not occur all the time in mild asthma, but it happens more often as asthma gets more severe. It may also vary over short periods of time by itself or as a result of treatment.
Children and adults
Asthma effects children and adults, and may develop at any age. It is the most common chronic disease in childhood.
The frequency of asthma in adults is increasing worldwide. It is highest in the UK (10–13%) and the lowest in Georgia (0.28%)
Symptoms can be controlled
Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough.
Symptoms improve with appropriate treatment, so much so that treatment fails to control symptoms in only 5% of patients.
Some patients with asthma are prone to very severe attacks, which can be fatal.
The majority of asthma deaths occur in people aged over 45 years (40% in those aged 75 years or above). Worldwide, it is estimated that 180,000 people die from asthma every year.