Asthma is a condition of the bronchial tubes characterized by episodes of constriction and increased mucous production. A person with asthma has bronchial tubes that are super sensitive to various stimuli, or triggers, that can produce asthma symptom.
In other words, asthmatics have special sensitivity that causes their lung tissue to react far more than is should to various stimulating factors or triggers. For this reason, people with asthma are said to have "twitchy airways."
Some symptoms that people with asthma commonly experience are chest tightenings, difficulty inhaling and exhaling, wheezing, production of large amounts of mucous in their windpipes and coughing.
Coughing can be frequent or intermittent, and can be loose-reflecting extra mucous secretion in the airways or dry and deep-reflecting tight bronchospasms. Not all these symptoms occur in every case of asthma.
Sometimes people may have coughing without and symptoms for months or even years before it's realized that they are asthmatic. Interestingly enough, asthma symptoms are most severe at night, while we're lying down our airways narrow as a result of gravity changes. Also our lungs do not clear secretions as well at night, which leads to mucous retention, and that can increase the obstruction to air flow. Furthermore, at night our bodies produce smaller amounts of certain chemical that help to decrease airway spasms and keep airway tubes open. All of these factors add up to a greater chance of symptoms worsening at night.
An asthma attack begins when the smooth muscles in the walls of the bronchial tubes start to tighten and narrow when they are exposed to a trigger when this bronchospasm occurs, air can't flow into or out of the lungs. To make matters worse, mucous enters the narrowed bronchial tubes and plugs them up, causing a further decrease in air flow. The bronchial tubes seem to close down, and air moving through these narrowed breathing passages can cause wheezing which is a high-pithched-whistlelike sound. Wheezing can be loud enough to be heard across a room, or it can be so slight that is takes a stethoscope to hear it. Airflow obstructions leads to air trapping in lungs. Once trapped, stale air builds up in the lungs.
Asthma attacks can be so mild they're hardly noticed or so severe that asthmatics can feel like they're suffocating. Although more attacks seem to occur at night, they can virtually happen anytime. Attacks may come on very suddenly, or they may develop slowly over a period of hours or days.
Among other contributing factors, asthmatics have an imbalance in their autonomic nervous system that controls the reactivity of their windpipes. The imbalance causes their windpipes to become over reactive to many different stimulating factors, or triggers. An asthmatic trigger can be any stimulus that brings about or sets off asthma symptoms.
Asthma triggers vary widely among asthmatics. The most common triggers are allergies, irritating substances such as dust, fumes, odors and vapors. Environmental factors, including weather changes and air pollution, infections, (primarily viral infections such as colds and flu) and stress both positive and negative. An important step in getting control of your asthma is to discover the factors or combination of factors that trigger your attacks.
How many kinds of asthma exist is a common question. Asthma can be divided into two categories: Extrinsic or allergic asthma, which is triggered by allergies and instrinsic, or non-allergic asthma. Asthma triggers tend to be extrensic in younger people and instrinsic in older people. However for both kinds of asthma, the symptoms are generally the same. The difference lies in the triggers that set off the asthma.
Treatment for asthma aims to ease bronchoconstriction, reduce bronchial air way swelling, and improve pulmonary ventilation. For the most part, medical treatment of asthma is tailored to each person. The following treatments are generally used -chronic mild asthma, chronic moderate asthma, chronic severe asthma, acute asthma attack and status asthmaticus.
In conclusion, deaths do result from asthma, in fact the mortality rate for asthma has not significantly changed in many years and still claims approximately 1 percent of all hospitalizations for acute asthma. The overall death rate is extremely low.
Asthma in Families - Percentage of offspring:
Both Parents - 50%
One Parent - 25%
Neither Parents - less than 10%