What is asthma?

What is asthma?

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic, noncontiguous condition that affects the respiratory tubes in the lungs, particularly the bronchioles, the fine subdivisions of the bronchial tubes. Essentially, asthma involves an over-reaction by the lining of the bronchioles to either a substance (possibly an allergen causing an allergic reaction) or to an excessively stimulating situation, involving stress or excitement. The bronchioles contract, their membranes swell, and excessive amounts of mucus plug their passages. This reduction of air space and flow causes the patient to wheeze, asp or cough. An attack may last few minutes or continue for weeks; most are considered mild. Serious attacks, while frightening, are not usually life-threatening. Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood.

Any number of substances can trigger an asthma attack: an allergic reaction an asthma attack: an allergic reaction to some allergen to which the sufferer is sensitive, such as air pollutants, tobacco smoke, pollen, animal dander, a particular food, dust, or a combination of such substances. Asthma may also be precipitated by such irritants as cold air or household chemicals. A viral infection can also bring on an attack, as can laughing, crying, yelling, fear or nervous tension. But it is not true, as used to be believed, that asthma is a psychological disorder; it is a physical disease.

Asthma Triggers

An asthma attack can be set off by a variety of substances or situations at home, at work or outdoors. The following are among the most common triggering factors:

Dust Spray starch
Grass, hay, privet

and flower pollens

Furniture polish sprays
Mould spores Liquid chlorine bleach
Insect parts Paint fumes
House mites Paint thinners

and strippers

Pets Cleaning fluids
Pet hairs A cold air blast
Feather or down pillows and duvets High humidity
Tobacco smoke Change of seasons
Polluted air Overexertion
Hair sprays Colds and infections
Perfumes Laughing, crying, anger, fear,

nervous tension, coughing or breathing too hard

Perfumed Cosmetics Allergies to foods like:

Peanut butter, eggs, milk, chocolate, orange juice, fish

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