Asthma is a disease of the lungs characterized by hyper-reactivity of the airways to a variety of stimuli (both allergic and non allergic), usually as result of inflammatory changes in the airways. A majority of children and young adults have sensitivity to either seasonal and/or perennial allergens and often have allergic rhinitis.
Asthmatics will also have symptoms precipitated by non allergic triggers such as cold air, exercise, air pollutants (car exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke).
Variant forms of asthma that do not produce wheezing may include: shortness of breath, cough or chest tightness. Asthma does not respond well to cough suppressants or antibiotics.
Diagnosis of asthma should include confirmation with a breathing test and skin testing for allergies.