Asthma Introduction  





Asthma introduction



What is asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role: in particular, mast cells, eosinophils, T lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, and epithelial cells. In susceptible individuals, this inflammation causes recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment. The inflammation also causes an associated increase in the existing bronchial hyperresponsiveness to a variety of stimuli. Reversibility of airflow limitation may be incomplete in some patients with asthma.
"Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma—Full Report, 2007”

Asthma is often linked to allergies, heredity and environment. In a normal individual, various airborne allergens (triggers) stimulate the production of antibodies and other chemicals in controlled quantity, which destroy the allergen but don’t harm the body. But in allergic individual who have asthma there is over production of antibodies and other chemicals which cause inflammation of the airways, which is hallmark of asthma.

Prevalence of asthma

Asthma is considered as a major public health problem in many countries. It is one of the most common chronic disease affecting both adults and children. According to world health organization there are at least 300 million people suffer from asthma worldwide and more than 180,000 people die from it each year. Despite the availability increasing treatment, asthma-related morbidity and mortality continues to rise. The prevalence of asthma is increasing in developed as well developing countries through the world. The current prevalence of asthma is estimated to be 5 to more than 10%.

Defining features and symptoms of asthma
  • Episodic symptoms: - Cough - Wheezing - Dyspnea or breathlessness.

  • Airflow obstruction with reversible component

  • Bronchial hyperresponsiveness to a variety of specific and non specific symptoms like pollens, moulds, cold air

  • Airway inflammation

  • Tendency towards atopy and allergic disease like eczema, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis.


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    Last edited 24-7-2010