What is Asthma?
Asthma is a very complex disease that is known for its different and
recurring symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, airflow obstruction, and very responsive and swollen airways. According to the
EPR-3 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma
(2007) , the working definition of asthma is as follows:
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many
cells and cellular elements play a role: in particular , mast
cells, eosinophils, neutrophils (especially in sudden onset, fatal exacerbations, occupational asthma, and patients who
smoke), T lymphocytes, macrophages, and epithelial cells.
In susceptible individuals, this inflammation causes recurrent
episodes of coughing (particularly at night or early in the
morning), wheezing, breathlessness, and chest tightness.
These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable
airflow obstruction that is often reversible either spontaneously
or with treatment.
If Asthma is not properly treated, then airway remodeling may
occur. Airway remodeling is the incomplete reversibility after
an asthma episode in some patients. View more information about
Causes of Asthma
According to recent and ongoing research, the development of asthma seems
to involve numerous factors that can impact the course of the
disease. These factors include:
- Immunity : Certain studies suggest that children who are exposed to other children, enrolled in childcare, and lived in the country have a
lower-incidence of asthma. This is called the "hygiene hypothesis".
- Genetics : Asthma is inheritable, but more study is needed.
- Environmental Factors: Allergens, respiratory infections and colds, tobacco
smoke, air pollution, and diet may play a part in asthma
development, but study is still ongoing.
View more information about the new EPR-3 Guidelines.