What exactly is an asthma attack?

Difficulty breathing. Asthma is due inflammation in the breathing tubes with mucus -- which causes narrowing of the tubes. It is often caused by allergies. Infection cold air. An allergist can help you figure out the cause and talk to you about an effective treatment plan.
Swelling of airway. Asthma is a combination of airway swelling, constriction of the small airways and increased mucus production. This occurs in the small airways called the bronchioles.

Related Questions

What exactly happens during an asthma attack?

Constriction & mucus. An asthma patient has episodes of bronchospasm (airways tighten up) plus swelling of the airways & increased mucus, causing difficulty breathing and creating wheezing noises. Inhalers like albuterol relax & open up airways; inhalers like Flovent (steroid) prevent or decrease swelling & mucus. Many children outgrow their asthma, so are almost "cured" but may get an episode years later.
Airway inflammation. The smaller air carrying tubes in the lung become inflamed and the muscles around them spasm. This leads to air getting trapped out in the lung, so it becomes hyperinlated. As a result, the sufferer can not get air out. .. Or in. If severe enough and untreated this can lead to death.
Attack... During an asthma exacerbation, the inflammatory cascade in the airway is triggered leading to bronchospasm and airway inflammation. The airways become swollen and fill with inflammatory by-products like white blood cells, mucous, etc. Treatment is aimed at relieving the bronchospasm and inflammation.