Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways (bronchi).
Their mucous is hypersensitive, thus it responds to various stimuli and swells. Moreover it produces phlegm that’s tough on the lungs. The consequences are recurrent attacks of breathlessness, cough and shortness of breath. In between are also free intervals. In the worst cases the complaints are frequent or even permanent, and it can lead to a significant reduction of a person’s activity.
There are allergic (extrinsic), and endogenous or intrinsic asthma.
Allergic asthma occurs mostly in children and young adults. A large proportion of asthmatics suffer additional allergic rhinitis, or atopic dermatitis (atopic dermatitis). Frequent cause of seizures in allergic asthma have allergies to dust mites or animal hair. Rarely the seizures are caused by food or medication.
From 30 to 50 percent of adults have endogenous asthma. Individuals with such form of ailment often have polyps in the nose and para-nasal sinus inflammation.
Allergies are not detectable. Such things as infections or nonspecific stimuli such as cold air, chemical irritants, tobacco smoke, stress and fumes can trigger one. Also certain drugs against pain (aspirin, NSAIDs) can cause asthma symptoms.
Hybrid mixed forms of both asthma groups occur mainly in adults.
Structure and Function
Bronchial asthma affects people of all ages and is one of the most common chronic diseases. However, it is especially strongly represented in children under ten years – mostly boys. It is the most common chronic illness in childhood. Among the adult population there are approximately three to six percent affected, but here the women are the majority.
Causes of Bronchial asthma
The causes of asthma are still unknown. Some say that genetic factors and environmental influences play a role in the emergence of the disease. Allergic symptoms of the respiratory tract are also the strongest risk factors for developing asthma. The precise interplay between genetic factors and various risk factors in the first years of life are the triggers that finally can lead to the emergence of asthma.
With an asthma attack, the flammable irritated bronchial mucous membrane swells strongly. Increased production of mucus narrows the airways further. In addition, the smaller muscles of the airways (bronchi) constrict. These processes complicate breathing, especially inhaling, and worsen the supply of oxygen to the body.
Various stimuli can be an acute asthma attack trigger:
* Non-specific stimuli: All asthmatics have a number of stimuli (trigger stimuli). These include physical exertion, cold, cigarette smoke, perfume and air pollution.
* Specific stimuli are mainly pollen, dust, animal hair, molds and some food. These stimuli are also known as allergens.
* Other factors include, for example, an inflammation of the airways, the viruses or bacteria caused, or certain painkillers (such as aspirin).