No one knows what causes asthma. Lots of things set off asthma attacks, though. These things are called triggers. Some people have only one or two triggers. Other people have many.
Some triggers are things to which people are often allergic. Common ones are pollen (from trees and flowers) and dander (skin flakes from cats, dogs, and other pets). Also, some people are allergic to pests such as roaches, rodents, or dust mites. Dust mites are tiny spiders that you can't see. They live everywhere—in carpets, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, and bedding. Cigarette smoke is another common trigger of asthma attacks. Other triggers have nothing to do with allergies— cold weather, exercise, or strong feelings (laughing, crying).
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If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.