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What is Asthma?

Asthma (AZ-ma) is a chronic lung disease that causes the airways through the lungs to narrow and swell making it hard to breathe.  Constriction and inflammation in the airways result in symptoms such as, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and even excessive coughing early in the morning or late at night.  It is an internal allergic response because the stimulants enter the body and cause a reaction.  Mucous or fluid is secreted from the lungs causing a restriction in the airways making it even harder to breathe. The lungs become enlarged, swollen, and extremely sensitive. There are many causes and triggers of asthma and everyone is affected differently. 

An asthma diagnosis is determined through physical examination and testing. Though asthma is a disease that does not go away, there are several ways to manage it. There are medications to control symptoms for the long term and to treat asthma symptoms for quick relief.  It is important to see a health care professional regularly and to follow an asthma management plan.

Asthma seriously impacts the nation and the District of Columbia.

What We Do to Help

The District of Columbia Asthma Control Program supports the DC Control Asthma Now (DC CAN) public/private partnership that aims to reduce the burden of asthma in DC.  The DC CAN develops interventions and conducts data surveillance and is guided by the goals, objectives and strategies outlined in the Strategic Plan for Addressing Asthma in the District of Columbia. The Strategic Plan is a blueprint for implementing best practices for comprehensive asthma management. 

The goal of the Strategic Plan is to reduce asthma morbidity and mortality by addressing five areas of concern:

1. Surveillance
2. Environmental and Occupational Health
3. Health Education
4. Health Services and Quality Assurance
5. Policy

Related Services: 
Contact TTY: 
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

Health, Department of

GIS Address: 
2201 Shannon Place SE