is a disease of the airways of the lungs which is characterized by increased
sensitivity of the airways to a variety of triggers. It is generally an
episodic disease, i.e., acute attacks followed by symptom free periods.
Though most attacks are generally short lived, sometimes serious conditions
occur in which severe Asthma is unrelieved for many hours or even days, like
in status asthmaticus.
Who is affected?
It occurs in all age groups, but is found
to be more common in children. It tends to affect both sexes equally.
Types of Asthma:
There are two types of Asthma--- Allergic
and Idiosyncratic. Allergic Asthma: This type is often associated with
personal or family history of other types of allergic diseases like hay
fever, rhinitis, eczema etc.
The offending agents causing Asthma:
- Environment and air pollution.
- Certain drugs like Aspirin.
- Occupational factors like working with animal skins, chemicals, stone
- Infections of the chest or Upper respiratory Tract can bring about an
acute attack of Asthma.
- Exercise and emotional stress.
Clinical Features: The most characteristic features of Asthma are---
breathlessness, cough and wheezing. The attack often occurs at night but may
also occur abruptly due to one of the precipitating factors mentioned above.
The patient often experiences a tight sensation in the chest along with dry
cough. Sometimes a long standing dry cough maybe the only indication of
When is Asthma really bad?
1. If the wheezing was audible periodically suddenly stops and the patient
is still feeling severely out of breath.
2. If the muscles of the neck and those above the collar bone stand out in
effort with every act of respiration.
3. If the attack is continuing unabated for several hours or even days with
no symptom free periods in between.
What to do:
1. Most of the known cases of Asthma keep 'inhalers' with them, these are
devices which ensure direct delivery of the drugs to the lungs and thereby
bringing about a rapid relief.
2. Avoiding known triggers which bring about an attack helps, like avoiding
strenuous exercises, going out in the cold, etc.
- Childhood asthma is a chronic disease which is on the increase and causes
significant health problems. Get a fact sheet on how to prevent and manage