Asthma is a respiratory illness, caused by an inflammation and subsequent narrowing of the 'tubes' of the lungs (medically known as the bronchi). It is largely incurable but is not life threatening, and for many asthma sufferers it is merely a matter of learning to shape their life around asthma and discovering tips on how to deal with it.
When one first receives an asthma diagnosis, there is a natural reaction of shock and upset. Asthma is a chronic condition, and when diagnosed in adults will tend to be with the person for the rest of their life. This shocked and saddened reaction is completely natural, but it is important to focus on the fact that asthma is very, very rarely fatal - and even then, usually only in conjunction with other medical problems.
Asthma is an illness that needs to be recognized in a daily lifestyle, but not given in to. With correct, inhalation-based treatment, the vast majority of asthma cases can be controlled - and the sufferer will live a normal life, providing they take the correct precautions. Asthma does not mean the end of being able to exercise or enjoy life - it merely means learning what works for you, what triggers an attack and how to prevent it.
Simple changes can make big differences to the life of an asthma sufferer. Things like switching from chemical-based cleaning products to natural solutions have great effects, and avoiding smoky places also makes a big difference. Asthma is controllable, and with the correct medication and a little due care and attention, people may never need know someone has it.