Asthma is a long-lasting (chronic) lung disease. It causes wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
Asthma symptoms are caused by two different problems in the airways.
If your child has asthma, symptoms often start after your child is exposed to a trigger. Asthma triggers can include:
Breathing second-hand smoke from tobacco, also called passive smoking, is harmful to the lungs of children.
Tobacco smoke irritates the airways in several ways. Smoke is made up of chemicals and very small pieces of ash that stay in the air long after the cigarette, pipe, or cigar is out. When a child with asthma breathes in these airborne chemicals and ash, it irritates the lining of the airways. This causes the muscles around the airways to squeeze tight, making it hard for the child to breathe.
Children who breathe second-hand smoke often have symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and a tight feeling in the chest. Even the smell of smoke on clothes can trigger asthma symptoms in a child with sensitive airways. Children with asthma should not spend any time in places where there is smoke. No one should smoke in the home, and no one should smoke in a car that a child with asthma rides in.
Children with asthma who live in a household with a smoker have more breathing problems, need to take more medicines, and have more emergency room visits than children who live in smoke-free homes. Children who live in a household with a smoker are also less likely to outgrow their asthma.
The American Lung Association gives the following tips: