To understand asthma, it helps to know how the airways work. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People who have asthma have inflammation within the airways. This inflammation makes the airways swollen and very sensitive, which tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances.
When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling also can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Symptoms can happen each time the airways are inflamed.
Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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