What Causes Asthma Symptoms?

It is important for you to know what causes your asthma symptoms.

Your breathing is important.  Very important.  And anything that causes you to breathe worse is scary.  Asthma is one of those things and can be terrifying, annoying and inconvenient.  You know this… you live with it (either with yourself or a family member/friend).

But it is very treatable if done correctly.  But LESS THAN HALF of asthmatics are treated correctly!  I want to fix that, and the best way to start is by discussing what causes your asthma symptoms.  It’s time you learn what causes your asthma symptoms!

An allergists approach to answering what causes athsma/asma/athsma symptoms
“What Causes Asthma Symptoms?” (or what causes asma / athsma symptoms)

“What causes asthma symptoms” is a question that even confuses the medical community!


First, it is probably because the definition is pretty boring:

Asthma is a “common chronic airway disorder with variable recurring symptoms including bronchial hyper-responsiveness….”  ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz!

This is MY specialty and reading about asthma symptoms like this even puts ME to sleep.


Second, many doctors aren’t taught enough about asthma to be able to explain to you what is actually causing your asthma symptoms. (It doesn’t help that when people try to search for more information, they often search for search for asma or mis-spell the disease as athsma… I would be more upset, but I spell things wrong all the time).

Today, I will fix this.  I will FINALLY explain to you what causes asthma symptoms (and even athsma or asma symptoms)!

Note:  click here if you want to first read about the symptoms of asthma.


First, what is the actual problem causing asthma symptoms?

The easiest explanation:  asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways.

Yes, I know that doctors seem to blame everything on inflammation these days.  It annoys me as much as you!

But in this case,  we’re talking about actual immune system inflammation.  To help this make sense, think of a time that you cut yourself:  you have the cut itself, which will eventually scab over, and you have the surrounding area that is red, swollen, and painful.  This is true inflammation and is caused by the immune system rushing to eat/destroy any bacteria, dirt, etc that surrounds the cut.

Now imagine this happening in your lungs.  THAT is what causes asthma symptoms.


Second, triggers are an important cause of asthma symptoms!

It’s not enough to just blame inflammation.  You also need to know that certain triggers cause the inflammation that causes asthma symptoms.

There is something triggering the inflammation in every asthmatic.

  • For some people, it’s a problem with the lungs.  This is called intrinsic or internal asthma.
  • For some people, there are other external or extrinsic triggers of asthma:
    • Allergies (pollen, pets, dust mites creating allergic asthma symptoms)
    • Colds / flus / viral infections (creating an infectious asthma symtpoms)
    • Cold air
    • Exercise (creating exercise induced asthma symptoms)
    • Irritants (perfumes, smells, odors… creating irritant asthma symptoms)
    • Cigarette smoke or even marijuana can causes asthma symptoms (I live in Colorado… so it’s an issue here)
    • And many more!
  • For almost all asthmatics, there is a combination of many of the above.
Click here if you want to download my
“What Causes Asthma Symptoms” handout


Third, HOW do these triggers and inflammation cause asthma symptoms?

Picture showing the cause of asthma, asma, and athsma symptoms
Inflammation causes asthma, asma and athsma symptoms!

There are two ways that triggers and inflammation CAUSE your asthma symptoms:

  1. First, inflammation causes airway swelling and mucous production INSIDE the lung.
    • This can cause shortness of breath, oxygen problems, chest tightness and most of the asthma symptoms.
    • Again, think about your imaginary cut inside your lungs.
  2. Second, inflammation causes problems with the muscles that surround the airway
    • Muscles surround the airway of the lungs like paper towels around the cardboard center.
    • Inflammation causes these muscles to close off or pinch down all of a sudden.
    • This also causes wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and is usually the tipping point for an asthma attack.


Finally, the full answer to “what causes asthma (or asma or athsma) symptoms?”


Asthma is caused when inflammation gets triggered in the lungs causing airway swelling, mucous production and muscles around the lungs to pinch/clamp down!


Ok… you’re probably almost asleep. Before I lose you, let me answer the question:  What now?

So what do you do with this information?  Everything that I do with my friends (and what every doctor or allergist should do for you):

  1. Try to identify and treat the triggers and create an asthma plan for each of them.
    • This will give you better asthma control
    • AND reduce your need for high dose medications!
  2. Identify lung inflammation and treat it with a targeted inhaled steroid medication
  3. Identify muscle tightness and treat it with an inhaler like albuterol.


These are the 3 steps that you should EXPECT EVERY TIME you are treated for asthma.  If it isn’t happening, you’re not receiving proper asthma care!

Here is how I can help:

  1.  First, if you having already done this, download my “What Causes Asthma Symptoms” handout and make sure you know what to tell your doctor!
  2. Second, if you mistyped into google, you can download my “What Causes Asma Symptoms” or my “What Causes Athsma Symptoms” handouts (can I let this spelling joke die now?)
  3. Third,  if you want ME TO HELP YOU FINALLY GET CORRECT ASTHMA CARE, contact me and I will do my best to tell you how to get control of your asthma.

Next Steps:

I have only one request with this post:  please share this with anyone you know who has been struggling with asthma!

It’s 2018… people should be better controlled with asthma by now!

If you or someone you know is struggling with asthma, this allergist will help you!Click To Tweet

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  • Jalu Sakti says:

    I’m so glad this post talked about mucus and inflammation; I never realized just how this combination really affects a person’s asthma. My daughter has had exercise induced asthma since she was little, and we are trying to find treatments that can help her get it under control. I had never seen the chart above, before, but it really helped me to understand exactly what happens during an asthma flare up. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a good specialist who can help her so that she is able to breathe while playing sports.

    • Dr. Webber says:

      I am glad the post helped. I think that a specialist is definitely a good idea if only because they would know how to treat the exercise induced asthma nuances that many providers miss. If you wanted further reading, here’s a post that shows how asthma might always be present even if there aren’t many symptoms and it stresses the importance of getting asthma breathing tests:

  • Braden Bills says:

    I’ve been having asthma symptoms, but I don’t know what’s causing it. It makes sense that the best way to figure out what to do would be to see an asthma specialist! They should be able to help me figure out the source of my problems.

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