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asthma /asthma/ (azmah) recurrent attacks of paroxysmal dyspnea, with wheezing due to spasmodic

contraction of the bronchi. It is usually either an allergic manifestation (allergic or extrinsic a.) or secondary to a chronic or recurrent condition (intrinsic a.). asthmatic

bronchial asthma asthma.


Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. 2007 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

bronchial asthma
n. A condition of the lungs characterized by widespread narrowing of the airways due to spasm of the smooth muscle, edema of the mucosa, and the presence of mucus in the lumen of the bronchi and bronchioles. It is caused by the local release of spasmogens and vasoactive substances in the course of an allergic reaction.
The American Heritage Medical Dictionary Copyright 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

bronchial asthma.
See asthma.

Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. 2009, Elsevier.

asthma [azmah]
a condition marked by recurrent attacks of DYSPNEA, with airway inflammation and wheezing due to spasmodic constriction of the bronchi; it is also known as bronchial asthma. Attacks vary greatly from occasional periods of wheezing and slight dyspnea to severe attacks that almost cause suffocation. An acute attack that lasts for several days is called status asthmaticus; this is a medical emergency that can be fatal. adj.,adj asthmatic.

CAUSES. Asthma can be classified into three types according to causative factors. Allergic or atopic asthma (sometimes called extrinsic asthma) is due to an ALLERGY to ANTIGENS; usually the offending allergens are suspended in the air in the form of pollen, dust, smoke, automobile exhaust, or animal dander. More than half of the cases of asthma in children and young adults are of this type. Intrinsic asthmais usually secondary to chronic or recurrent infections of the bronchi, sinuses, or tonsils and adenoids. There is evidence that this type develops from a HYPERSENSITIVITY to the bacteria or, more commonly, viruses causing the infection. Attacks can be precipitated by infections, emotional factors, and

exposure to nonspecific irritants. The third type of asthma, mixed, is due to a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. There is an inherited tendency toward the development of extrinsic asthma. It is related to a HYPERSENSITIVITY REACTION of the IMMUNE RESPONSE. The patient often gives a family medical history that includes allergies of one kind or another and a personal history of allergic disorders. Secondary factors affecting the severity of an attack or triggering its onset include events that produce emotional stress, environmental changes in humidity and temperature, and exposure to noxious fumes or other airborne allergens.

SYMPTOMS. Typically, an attack of asthma is characterized by dyspnea and a wheezing type of respiration. The patient usually assumes a classic sitting position, leaning forward so as to use all the accessory muscles of respiration. The skin is usually pale and moist with perspiration, but in a severe attack there may be cyanosis of the lips and nailbeds. In the early stages of the attack coughing may be dry; but as the attack progresses the cough becomes more productive of a thick, tenacious, mucoid sputum.

An asthma attack with respiratory distress. From Frazier et al., 2000.

TREATMENT. The treatment of extrinsic asthma begins with attempts to determine the allergens causing the attacks. The cooperation of the patient is needed to relate onset of attacks with specific environmental substances and emotional factors that trigger or intensify symptoms. The patient with nonallergic asthma should avoid infections, nonspecific irritants, such as cigarette smoke, and other factors that provoke attacks. Drugs given for the treatment of asthma are primarily used for the relief of symptoms. There is no cure for asthma but the disease can be controlled with an individualized regimen of drug therapy coupled with rest, relaxation, and avoidance of causative factors. Bronchodilators such as epinephrine and aminophylline may be used to enlarge the bronchioles, thus relieving respiratory embarrassment. Other drugs that thin the secretions and help in their ejection (expectorants) may also be prescribed.

The patient with status asthmaticus is very seriously ill and must receive special attention and medication to avoid excessive strain on the heart and severe respiratory difficulties that can be fatal.

PATIENT CARE. Because asthma is a chronic condition with an irregular pattern of remissions and exacerbations, education of the patient is essential to successful treatment. The plan of care must be highly individualized to meet the needs of the patient and must be designed to encourage active participation in the prescribed program and in self care. Most patients welcome the opportunity to learn more about their disorder and ways in which they can exert some control over the environmental and emotional events that are likely to precipitate an attack. Exercises that improve posture are helpful in maintaining good air exchange. Special deep breathing exercises can be taught to the patient so that elasticity and full expansion of lung and bronchial tissues are maintained. (See also LUNG and CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE.) Some asthmatic patients have developed a protective breathing pattern that is shallow and ineffective because of a fear that deep breathing will bring on an attack of coughing and wheezing. They will need help in breaking this pattern and learning to breathe deeply and fully expand the bronchi and lungs. The patient should be encouraged to drink large quantities of fluids unless otherwise contraindicated. The extra fluids are needed to replace those lost during respiratory distress. The increased intake of fluids also can help thin the bronchial secretions so that they are more easily removed by coughing and deep breathing. The patient should be warned of the hazards of extremes in eating, exercise, and emotional events such as prolonged laughing or crying. The key words are modification and moderation to avoid overtaxing and overstimulating the body systems. Relaxation techniques can be very helpful, especially if the patient can find a method that effectively reduces tension. Asthmatic patients fare better if they feel that they do have some control over their disease and are not necessarily helpless victims of a debilitating incurable illness. There is no cure for asthma but there are ways in which one can adjust to the illness and minimize its effects.

allergic asthma (atopic asthma) that due to an atopic ALLERGY; see ASTHMA.

bronchial asthma asthma.

cardiac asthma a term applied to breathing difficulties due to pulmonary edema in heart disease, such as left ventricular failure.

extrinsic asthma

asthma caused by some factor in the environment, usually atopic in nature.

atopic asthma.

intrinsic asthma that due to a chronic or recurrent infection; see ASTHMA.

occupational asthma extrinsic asthma due to an allergen present in the workplace.

Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

asthma
a condition marked by recurrent attacks of dyspnea, with wheezing due to spasmodic constriction of the bronchi.

It is also known as bronchial asthma. Attacks vary greatly from occasional periods of wheezing and slight dyspnea to severe attacks that almost cause suffocation.

acute equine asthma sudden attacks of respiratory distress in horses at pasture; the dyspnea responds dramatically to treatment with corticosteroids combined with antihistamines. allergic asthma extrinsic asthma; bronchial asthma due to allergy. Called also atopic asthma. atopic asthma see allergic asthma (above). bronchial asthma asthma. cardiac asthma a term applied to breathing difficulties due to pulmonary edema in heart disease, such as left ventricular failure. feline asthma see feline bronchial asthma.
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary, 3 ed. 2007 Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved

Patient discussion about bronchial asthma.


Q. How long does asthma stay with someone? My son has had asthma since he was three years old. The doctors keep telling us that he will grow out of it, he is now twelve. And it even got a little bit worse then ever.

A. some people grow out of it and some don"t,it might depend on how severe the asthma is, Q. How do I tell my friend his smoking is affecting my asthma? I recently was diagnosed with asthma. Today I almost pass out from second hand smoke @ work. My co-worker smokes but also let his clothes smoke with him - After his smoke break I literally have to leave - he knows I have asthma - how can I tell him without consequences from manager and other co-workers or making him feel bad? A. I would just tell him about your condition and that it bothers you. I would ask him to not smoke around you. If he does not respond to your niceness then I would go to Human Resources or a manager and deal with it that way. Besides, his smoke breaks take up a lot of time from the company and is consider timetheft. Q. What causes asthma? My 5 year old son has trouble breathing sometimes after he runs around too much. My friend suggested he might have asthma. What causes this disease? A. Asthma is a common disease which children are frequently diagnosed with. The physiological mechanism that causes trouble breathing is in fact known: the immune system is hyper stimulated at its basis, therefore many environmental factors, such as dust, animal hair, cigarette smoke or physical activity can arouse it more easily. This causes a series of chemical secretions that lead to constriction of the smooth muscle in the bronchi (the large breathing tubes), and the feeling of not being able to breath regularly. The disease is known to be genetically associated, and it is very common that children diagnosed with asthma have first degree family relatives with the disease or relatives that often suffer from allergies.