Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The prevalence of asthma has increased dramatically throughout the world in recent years. It is accompanied by occasional periods of difficulty breathing due to narrowing of the lower airways. The narrowing of the airways goes away partially or completely, either on its own or with treatment. It is knowns that many people do not really know they have asthma and therefore do not receive adequate treatment. At the same time, in most patients with asthma, complete control over the disease can be achieved with the help of treatment. Thus, the quality of life and working capacity can be maintained.
Air movement in the respiratory tract
The air movement in the body begins through the nose or mouth. If you inhale, air moves into the lungs through the trachea and lung tubes (bronchi). The bronchi end in small bubble-like formations (alveoli) where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Oxygen is absorbed from the alveoli into the blood, and carbon dioxide generated in the body passes from the blood to the alveoli. When released, the air, along with carbon dioxide, is excreted from the lungs. Normally, when breathing, all airways are open and air moves through them freely.
What happens in the airways in asthma?
With asthma, the airways are inflamed, irritated and narrowed. The movement of air in them is difficult. This is due to asthmatic inflammation, which creates edema in the mucous membrane and an increase in mucus secretion. Inflammation of the mucous membrane and the narrowing of the bronchi are the protective reaction against various external stimuli. In asthma, the airways are more sensitive than usual and react easily to various stimuli. Airway constriction can be caused, for example, by irritating odors, cold weather, severe stress, and contact with animals or pollen.
The main symptoms of asthma are:
- a feeling of suffocation;
- lack of air (which can occur at night);
- wheezing, especially on deep exhalation;
- cough that occurs more often during the night and/or early morning;
- tension or heaviness in the chest.
Asthma symptoms can be milder or more severe. They can last from several hours to days if asthma is not diagnosed and the symptoms are not treated. An asthma attack is a condition where all of the symptoms of asthma – respiratory distress, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and a feeling of heaviness in the chest – develop very quickly. The manifestation of symptoms (especially the first time) can cause feelings of fear, uncertainty, helplessness. There can be several reasons for triggering an asthma attack: excessive physical activity, various environmental factors, stress or contact with triggers.