The Coach's Asthma Clipboard Program - Glossary of Terms


Passages in the lungs that move air in and out of the body. Sometimes called bronchiole tubes, bronchi or respiratory system.


Beta 2 agonist, or albuterol sulfate. The most commonly seen rescue or reliever medication used to reduce asthma bronchospasm, or as a preventative medication for exercise induced asthma. Most often used as an inhaler or with a nebulizer.

aerobic activity

Any activity that causes an increased intake of oxygen into the lungs.

air quality index (AQI)

A report of daily outdoor air quality conditions. In Minnesota and Utah, four pollutants are used to calculate the AQI: ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particles PM2.5 .


A substance which causes an allergic response in sensitive individuals. Allergens can be either natural, e.g., pollen, dust; or man made, e.g., perfume, cleaning agents .


An overreaction by the body's immune system to a specific foreign substance (allergen). An allergy occurs only in people sensitive to a particular allergens .

allergic reaction

Response in sensitive people to specific allergens. An allergic reaction can occur in different parts of the body. Common areas include the skin, the eyes, the respiratory system and the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms often include itching, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.


A chronic disease of the lungs. Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, feeling of tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, itching neck, throat and ears. Symptoms vary greatly from person to person, and usually, individuals with asthma also experience ups and downs with symptoms. Symptoms can be well managed and stabilized for most people who have asthma. Certain substances or conditions may trigger asthma symptoms.

asthma action plan (aap)

A document which outlines an individual treatment plan for a person who has asthma; developed in consultation with the health care provider, family members, and caregivers. Effective action plans help patients control their asthma and live healthy active lives.

asthma episode/attack/exacerbation

A time when asthma symptoms flare up or intensify, requiring immediate adjustments in treatment and medication to get symptoms under control. Asthma episodes may occur suddenly, with few warning signs, or build slowly over a period of hours or even days.

asthma management

Can be defined as managing, preventing, treating, and controlling environmental factors, medications, etc., that affect a person's asthma.

bronchial tubes

The major airways of the respiratory system that carry air from the windpipe (trachea) to the microscopic air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs.


Any of the fine, thin-walled, tubular extensions of a bronchus.


A medication used by people who have asthma to relax bronchial muscles, and, in turn, open up the bronchial tubes.


The tightening of the airways that occurs with asthma. Caused when the muscles around the bronchial tubes contract in response to specific triggers.

Controller or long-term acting medication

The standard treatment of asthma for most patients who have chronic asthma and need daily medication. These kinds of medications provide long-term relief by acting in a preventive way to make airways less sensitive, minimizing or reducing symptoms before they even appear.


Steroidal anti-inflammatory medication useful for people who have asthma. Considered the most effective controller medication available today. Delivered as an inhaler, in pill or liquid form. Not the same as anabolic steroids.


Scaly or shredded dry skin that comes from animals or bird feathers. Dander may be a cause of an allergic response in susceptible persons.

exercise-induced asthma (EIA)

Asthma symptoms which appear during or following strenuous exercise. Symptoms may be minimal or severe enough to require emergency treatment. Some people who have chronic asthma have exercise as a trigger. Some people only develop bronchoconstriction asthma symptoms when they exercise.

holding chamber

A small chamber connected to a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) in order to take inhaled medications. The chamber allows the person with asthma to inhale medication more deeply into the airways. Holding chambers have valves that prevent the medication from escaping until the person with asthma breathes in.

inhaled corticosteroid

Steroidal anti-inflammatory medication useful for people who have asthma. Considered the most effective controller medication available at this time. The medication is breathed in through the mouth into the lungs. Not the same as anabolic steroids.

inhaler/metered dose inhaler (MDI)

A device used to deliver a variety of commonly prescribed asthma medications which help ease breathing by opening up the airways.


Any substance which causes swelling of the respiratory system. An irritant may trigger asthma or symptoms, but they may not be considered an allergen. Examples of irritants include tobacco smoke, chemicals, pesticides, or air pollution.

long-term or controller medication

These kinds of medications provide long-term relief by acting in a preventive way to make airways less sensitive, minimizing or reducing symptoms before they even appear. Inhaled corticosteroids are considered the gold standard for controller medications.


Often called phlegm or sputum, this sticky fluid is produced by the membranes lining the airways. Exposure to certain triggers can increase mucus production for asthma patients.Excessive amounts of mucus make breathing more difficult.


A small, portable machine used to deliver certain asthma medications.

peak flow meter (PFM)

A small, portable, handheld device which measures how well the lungs are able to expel air, allowing people with asthma to detect airway narrowing and adjust medications accordingly.

quick relief or rescue medication

Medicine taken to relieve asthma symptoms. Called quick relief because they can act immediately to reduce symptoms that appear suddenly.


A short tube device which can be attached to an inhaler to help the person with asthma use the inhaler more effectively. A spacer does not have a valve and is not as effective as a holding chamber.


A substance or environmental condition that cause asthma symptoms to appear.


The whistling sound which occurs when air moves though narrowed or tightened airways. May be heard on exhalation. Wheezing is a classic symptom of asthma.