Asthma is a respiratory/breathing condition marked by recurrent attacks of breathlessness. It is a common childhood emergency and is also seen in adults.
Causes and Risk Factors
Bronchial asthma is a form of atopy and certain individuals have a genetic predisposition to atopy. It is characterized by bronchoconstriction i.e. the airway becomes narrower making it difficult for air to get through, hence the breathlessness. It is often triggered by exercise, allergens (e.g. dust, pollen grains), smoke, cold weather, respiratory infections, some drugs and some kinds of food.
Asthma symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and cough.
A clinical diagnosis of asthma is gotten by demonstrating an increase in airflow obstruction, difficulty with exhalation, elevated eosinophil count in peripheral blood, finding eosinophils and certain other cells and crystals in sputum.
Treatment of asthma can be by a broad range of medication options which act by reducing/reversing the inflammation and the bronchoconstriction. Acute/sudden asthma attacks are treated using inhalational medications such as salbutamol. Asthma medications can also be administered using a nebulizer (commonly in children).
People who have been observed to have a genetic predisposition to atopy and allergic reactions should avoid factors that have been known to aggravate them and ensure compliance with medications as prescribed by doctors.