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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that usually presents with a series of recurring symptoms, including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. The causes of the disease are believed to be both genetic and environmental. There is currently no precise medical examination to diagnose asthma, but a diagnosis is usually established after evaluating the sufferer’s symptoms. Asthma can sometimes occur simultaneously with other conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Asthma treatment usually involves lifestyle modifications, such as avoidance of various symptom triggers (allergens, smoke, sulfite-rich foods), as well as an array of drugs that can keep symptoms under control. Mild asthma usually has a good prognosis. Over 50% of the patients diagnosed during childhood will no longer be presenting any symptoms within a decade.

Asthma incidence has increased considerably during the second half of the 20th century. A survey showed that about 9% of American children suffered from asthma in 2001, compared to only 3,6% in 1980.

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