A - C

Adherence - the extent to which a person complies with his/her doctor's written instructions on his/her asthma medicine plan

Airways - see bronchioles

Allergen - something you are sensitive to; examples include dust mites, pets, cockroaches, and mold

Allergy - a heightened sensitivity to something that does not affect most people

Anti-inflammatory - 'anti' means against and 'inflammatory' means inflammation or swelling; it is a type of asthma medicine that helps prevent inflammation in the airways

Asthma - a chronic disease of the lungs that causes wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath; it is with you all the time, but you will only have problems or asthma attacks when something bothers your lungs

Asthma attack - extreme wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath that is caused by exposure to an asthma trigger

Asthma care plan - written instructions from your doctor which are specific to your child, and tell about taking the right medicine, at the right time, in the right amount, and in the right way; also referred to as an Asthma medicine plan

Asthma clue - see symptom

Asthma diary - a calendar-type form that allows you to record your asthma symptoms and other necessary information so that you and your doctor can track your progress over time

Asthma medicine plan - see asthma care plan

Bronchioles - passages through which air travels to and from the lungs

Bronchodilator - 'broncho' is short for bronchioles, another name for airways, and 'dilator' means open up; it is a medicine that opens the airways; there are many types of bronchodilators, as they are some of the main rescue medicines for asthma; an example is albuterol

CARAT- Child Asthma Risk Assessment Tool - a survey that is designed to help clinicians, asthma counselors and parents determine potential risks for children with asthma; it includes a risk profile, a risk report describing risk factors for your child, and a graph of these risk factors

Chronic - something that lasts a long time and reoccurs frequently; asthma is considered a chronic disease because it cannot be cured and is always with you even when you are not having asthma signs and symptoms

Controller medicine - seepreventive medicine

D - I

Dander - dead skin flakes from an animal, like a cat or dog, which cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to these types of animals

Dose - how much of a certain medicine to take

Dust mites - microscopic insects that live in beds, blankets, sofas, rugs, stuffed animals, and other places in the home; they are found in everyone's home and produce materials that cause allergy and asthma

ETS - Environmental Tobacco Smoke; it is not considered an allergen, but smoke particles irritate the airways; exposure to smoke can worsen breathing problems in children with asthma

HEPA filter - High Efficiency Particulate Air filter - a special air filter that can take out 99.97% of all particles in the air down to 0.3 microns in size; these are often used in homes to filter out particles in the environment that can aggravate allergies and asthma

HEPA unit - an air filtration device that has a HEPA filter

HEPA vacuum - a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter

Inflammation - a response to injury, infection, or irritation in which the area becomes swollen, red, and sore; the lungs of people with asthma always have inflammation; when the lungs are exposed to a trigger, the inflammation increases and causes asthma signs and symptoms

J - P

MDI - Metered Dose Inhaler - a small, hand-held device that is used to deliver medicine in measured amounts; it is a common way to take asthma medication

Morbidity - a disease or the incidence of disease within a population

Mortality - the number of deaths in a given time or place

Mucus - a "slimy" material that coats tissues inside the body, including the lungs and mouth; if too much is produced, which can happen when you have an infection, it makes it more difficult to move air in and out of your lungs

Nebulizer - a breathing machine that allows you to take asthma medicine in the form of a mist; the machine consists of a mouthpiece or mask, a medication cup, and thin plastic tubing which is connected to the machine; nebulizers are often used in emergency departments to treat asthma attacks

NIAID - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - a part of the NIH that has conducted extensive research on asthma and allergies that has ultimately contributed to finding new ways to help affected individuals

NIH - National Institutes of Health - a medical research center funded by the U.S. Government; it is made up of more than 25 institutes and centers, each of which has a special area of health as its focus

NO2 - Nitrogen Dioxide - a reddish-brown gas that pollutes the air we breathe; it comes from cars, factories, environmental tobacco smoke, and combustion appliances inside the home; in high amounts, it can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath

Peak flow - the maximum speed at which a person can blow air out of his/her lungs

Peak flow meter - a device that measures the speed at which a person can blow air out of his/her lungs; it can help you know when your child is not breathing at his/her best; it can let you know there are problems even before your child has signs like coughing or wheezing

Prevalence - the percentage of a population that has a certain disease at a certain time

Preventive medicine - a medicine that works slowly over many weeks to stop the swelling or inflammation in the airways; it is taken every day, even when the person with asthma feels fine and can breathe well; many people take their preventative medicine all year long for many years; people cannot become addicted or hooked on these asthma medicines even if they use them for many years; also referred to as a controller medicine

Primary care physician - a doctor who provides overall healthcare; these doctors are able to provide continuous care for asthma unless the asthma is severe

Pulmonary function - an assessment made from several different breathing techniques of how well a person's lungs are functioning; the assessment considers air flow, lung volume, and diffusion of gas in the lungs

Q - Z

Rescue medicine - a medicine that helps stop an asthma attack that has already started or keeps an attack from getting serious; it works quickly to stop the squeezing and open the airways in the lungs during an attack and is taken at the first sign of a wheeze, cough or tight chest; sometimes doctors instruct people to take it every day for a week or two following an attack, but rescue medicines are not meant to be used to stop attacks every day for weeks and weeks; bronchodilators are an example

Risk factor - something that makes you more likely to have asthma symptoms or an attack

Risk profile - a questionnaire or survey that is used to assess a variety of potential asthma risks for a child; only those factors that affect that particular child will be reported

Second-hand smoke - is a combination of the exhaled smoke from a smoker, and the smoke that remains from smoldering cigarettes, cigars, or pipes; when children breathe in second-hand smoke, it makes their asthma worse by irritating the lungs and it can cause respiratory infections; even when you can't see any smoke, the chemicals from the smoke are in the air and can make asthma worse

Side effect - any effect medicine has on you that is not directly related to the intended purpose of the medicine; an example is nausea that is caused by a medicine used to treat asthma

Spacer - a holding chamber that attaches to a metered dose inhaler; it holds medicine long enough to inhale it in one or two breaths; the spacer makes it easier to use the medicine right away

Symptom - something that lets you know that an asthma attack is about to start; also referred to as an asthma clue

Trigger - something that starts an asthma attack; examples of triggers are allergens, cold weather, emotions, and exercise; different people have different asthma triggers

Wheezing - a symptom of asthma, where a person has difficulty breathing; it is characterized by a whistling sound when a person breathes out