Why have my asthma symptoms been worse at night?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have asthma. Lately my symptoms have been worse at night. Why is that?

DEAR READER: I put many questions to what I call the "grandmother test." My mother's mother did not have much education, but she was smart and had great common sense. Her answer to your question would have been: "There's something in your bedroom that's irritating your lungs." That's what I think, too.

How do bronchodilators and steroids help with asthma?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have asthma. Can you explain how bronchodilators and steroids help me breathe easier?

DEAR READER: To understand how asthma medications work, you need to understand how asthma affects your lungs.

Asthma assaults the lung's airways. The airways are the tubes through which the air you breathe enters and leaves your lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways get narrower as the muscles surrounding them constrict.