Asthma (Greek word meaning "panting") is a respiratory disease in which contraction and narrowing of the bronchial passages and swelling of their mucous lining cause difficulty in breathing, often due to allergy (unusual sensitivity to a normally harmless substance), particularly to dust, animal fur or feathers, moulds, and pollen. Many people with allergic asthma, called extrinsic asthma, also suffer from hay fever. Asthma in adults is less likely to be caused by allergy, and more likely to be associated with respiratory disease and emotional upsets. Non-allergic asthma is called intrinsic asthma.


The frequency and severity of asthma symptoms differs from one person to another. Atypical attack, which often occurs at night, begins with coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, but in some individuals a dry cough may be the only symptom. Even without treatment, attacks usually subside after a few hours, with a change to a moist cough that brings up large amounts of mucus.

Attacks may happen again in a few hours or days, or may be absent 'for months or even years. Status asthmatic is a prolonged attack that persists despite treatment with drugs, which is a particularly severe and sometimes fatal form of the disease, and usually requires hospitalization. Some children with asthma stop having attacks when they reach adulthood.

Prevention and Treatment.

Asthma attacks can be treated or prevented with the use of some of drugs.. Inhalation of bronchodilator drugs, such as albuterol orterbutaline, is the usual treatment, and can bring relief within minutes. Severe attacks that do not respond to these drugs may require treatment with corticosteroids. Drugs that can prevent asthma symptoms include theophylline, which is usually taken in tablets, and cromolyn sodium, which is inhaled.

When asthma is associated with allergy to inhaled particles, avoidance of the allergen responsible is generally recommended but often difficult to achieve. Feather pillows and pets can often be avoided, but dust, moulds, and pollens often may not. Skin testing may identify the offending allergens, and periodic desensitizing injections over several years of small amounts of these substances may be helpful.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited


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