Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest and coughing fits. An asthma attack may be brought on by physical exercise, air pollutants, anxiety or a wide variety of allergens – and sometimes occurs when a person is sleeping. Certain medications, acid reflux, breathing in cold air, respiratory infections and some food additives may also cause an asthma attack in people who are prone to this condition. During an attack, the lining of a patient’s airway becomes inflamed and produces excess mucus, and the muscles surrounding the airway will spasm. While no “cure” for asthma exists, long-term management of the condition is possible through medications (including inhalers), avoidance of triggers such as pet dander, pollen, dust and cigarette smoke, and other strategies that your medical provider can suggest.