What is asthma  

What is Asthma


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of airways, (the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs), characterized by sudden attacks of labored breathing, chest constriction and coughing and excess mucous production.

Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma—Full Report, 2007 defines asthma as:

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.

Asthma is often linked to allergies, heredity and environment. Traditionally, asthma was considered to be a condition characterized by narrowing of airways wherein the patients would gasp for breath.

In people who have asthma caused by an allergic response, various airborne allergens or other triggers set off a cascade of events in the immune system that lead to inflammation and hyper reactivity in the airways.

In a normal individual, the allergen like Housedust mite stimulates the production of antibodies, which destroy the allergen. These antibodies are produced in amounts sufficient to destroy the allergen.

People with asthma have airways that are almost always red and sensitive (inflamed). Their airways can react badly when they have a cold or other viral infection, or when they come into contact with an asthma trigger (something that sets off their symptoms). When this happens the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten and they become narrower.

The lining of the airways swell and often produce thick sticky mucus. As the airways narrow, the air has to squeeze in and out, and this is what causes the person with asthma to find it difficult to breathe.

Asthma symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or a tight feeling in the chest.

Triad of asthma are as follows:

1. Airway hyperresponsiveness it is a unique property of patients of asthma to react to external stimuli.

2. Bronchoconstriction meaning that the muscles that encircle the airways tighten or go into spasm.
3. Chronic inflammation means that the airways become red, swollen and narrow.

Excessive mucous production is also present in asthma.




Am I asthmatic

Is my asthma under control


Last edited 22-8-2010