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Immune Disease:

Soraya Russell
HSC 4553

Asthma is a chronic disease that
affects your lungs. It causes
inflammation and narrowing of the
airways which leads to what is
commonly called an asthma
attack. An asthma attack occurs
when a persons asthma is triggered
(i.e. weather changes, smoke, dust)
and causes wheezing, coughing,
tightness in the chest and shortness


The history of asthma has
shown significant variations in
the development of the
disease. For example, some
phase out their asthma
completely, while others
manage to control it with
occasional relapses. Others,
have a lifelong struggle with
their asthma resulting in
irreversible airway obstruction

Asthma is a condition that
affects the respiratory system,
more specifically, the lungs. It
has a direct affect on the
bronchi and bronchioles.
The lungs airways or bronchial
tubes become chronically
inflamed and produce too
much mucus in the lumen.

The walls of the bronchial
tubes also display bronchial
gland hyperplasia
(enlargement). This
corresponds with the excess
mucus in the lumen.
Recurring bronchial spasms
are related to smooth muscle
hyperplasia, which is when
there is a greater amount and

This picture shows the difference between a normal

airway (bronchial tube) and an airway during an asthma
(A)- Shows where the airways are located within the body.
(B)- Shows a normal airway. The muscle walls are smooth
and not inflamed.
(C)- Shows an asthmatic airway. The tube is narrowed,
thickened and filled with mucus.

Asthma is broken down into major forms:
extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic asthma- results from exposure to
allergens such as pollen. This is seen as
type 1 hypersensitivity and most
commonly affects children.
Intrinsic asthma- triggered by nonimmune
mechanisms such as air pollution, weather
changes, stress, exercise and so on. This
usually starts in adulthood, before 40.

The cause of asthma is not exactly known.
However, there are some environmental and
genetic factors that scientists believe play a
role in it. This includes:
Atopy, inherited predisposition to the
development of allergies
Family history of asthma
Childhood development of a respiratory infection
During infancy or early childhood there was
exposure to allergens or a viral infection.

Asthma affects relatively close
to 5% of adults and 10% of
children in the U.S. More than 25
million have asthma.
This condition affects children
(before 10 years of age) more so
than adults as shown by the
statistic that in more than 50%
of cases it started in childhood.
Males are affected by this twice
as much as females.

Asthma affects persons of all
ethnic groups and races.
However, African Americans
have the highest prevalence
rate for asthma, Caucasians
the second highest and
Hispanics the least highest.
The death rate for children
due to asthma is 0.22 per
100,000 and 1.0 per 100,000
for adults between the ages

Common signs and symptoms
include these:
Coughing: usually occurs in the early
morning or night
Tightness in the chest: people often
refer to this feeling as an elephant
sitting on their chest
Wheezing: when struggling to breathe a
whistling sound occurs
Shortness of breath: the feeling of not
being able to catch your breath

The doctor will diagnose asthma
based on three things: family
history, a physical exam and tests.
Family history- the doctor will ask a
series of questions about family
history of asthma, what triggers the
symptoms and when it seems to
Physical exam- the doctor will listen
to the breathing and observe the

Tests- The primary test used
to diagnose asthma is a lung
function test called
spirometry. This is done to see
how much air can be breathed
in and out and how fast its
Other tests include: an allergy
test, a bronchoprovocation, a
chest x-ray and an

There is no cure for asthma but the
key to living with it is to control it. A
person can control their asthma by
avoiding triggers (except exercise)
and taking medication properly.
Two treatments that are used for
asthma are long-term control and
quick-relief medications.

The most common longterm control medication
is an inhaled
corticosteroid. Others
are Cromolyn and
Omalizumab. These are
taken daily to prevent
asthma attacks.
Quick relief medications
are taken when a
person has an asthma
attack. The most
common choice is an
inhaled short-acting

There is no way to prevent
asthma. The best thing to do
is to learn about asthma and
how it is controlled. It is also
good to monitor the
symptoms one may posses.

American Lung Association. (2010). Asthma. State of Lung
Disease in Diverse Communities 2010, 27-33. Retrieved from
American Lung Association. (2013). What is Asthma? [Video]
Damjanov, I. (2012). The Respiratory System. In Pathology for
the Health Professions (4th ed., pp. 176-178). St. Louis, Missouri:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2014). What is
Asthma?. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from
Reed, C. (2006). The natural history of asthma. Journal of Allergy
and Clinical Immunology, 118(3), 543-548. Retrieved November
14, 2014, from