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Asthma

Asthma: Introduction

Asthma is a chronic, ongoing lung disease marked by acute flare-ups or attacks of difficulty with breathing. It is a common disease that can happen at any age but most often occurs during childhood and can continue into adulthood. More than 6 million children and 22 million adults in the U.S. have the condition, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Characteristics of asthma include inflammation of the airways in the lungs. These include the bronchioles, small hollow passageways that branch off the main airway from the mouth and nose. Air and oxygen pass through the bronchioles into the alveoli, tiny hollow structures in the lungs where oxygen is absorbed in to the bloodstream. In asthma, bronchioles and alveoli become inflamed, irritated and swollen, blocking the flow of air into the lungs.

The surrounding muscles react by tightening and further blocking the flow of oxygen into the lungs and bloodstream. The airway also begins to make more mucus than normal, which further blocks the airways and compounds the problem with the intake of air.

This process leads to the development of the hallmark symptoms of asthma: wheezing and shortness of breath. Complications of untreated or poorly treated asthma can be serious and even life-threatening. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of asthma.

Asthma is often associated with allergies, and most people with asthma also have allergies. In these people the disease is often known as allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma. Other types of asthma include occupational asthma, which is caused by breathing irritating or toxic chemicals work. Cough-variant asthma is a form of asthma in which a dry, irritating cough is the most prominent symptom.

People most at risk for developing asthma include young children who frequently experience colds or other respiratory infections, such as bronchitis. Other major risk factors include having eczema, an allergic skin condition, and having parents with asthma. Asthma can also develop from occupational exposure to irritating chemicals. Air pollution, smoking and second hand exposure to smoke also contribute to the risk of developing asthma or experiencing a worsening of asthma symptoms.

Making a diagnosis of asthma includes completing a complete medical evaluation and history and physical examination. Diagnostic testing can include lung function tests, such as spirometry. This simple painless test measures how much air a person is able to move in and out of the lungs. Spirometry is also often used regularly to monitor how well asthma treatments are working.

A chest X-ray may also be done, which can evaluate a number of factors, including the presence of other conditions that may occur with or without asthma symptoms, such as pneumonia, and bronchitis. A bronchoprovocation test may also be performed to measure lung function after a variety of factors that potentially provoke asthma symptoms are introduced to the patient. Allergy testing is also commonly performed to determine a person's individual sensitivities to allergens, substances that trigger an allergic reaction that can result in asthma symptoms.

It is possible that a diagnosis of asthma can be missed or delayed because symptoms may be mild or not typical or are associated with other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of asthma.

There is no cure for asthma, although some children may grow out of the condition. With an individualized treatment plan that best fits the type and severity of asthma and a person's life style, asthma can be successfully treated. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of asthma....more »

Asthma: Misdiagnosis

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of asthma is vital to preventing serious, even life threatening complications, such as pneumonia and respiratory arrest.

In some cases, a diagnosis of asthma may be overlooked or delayed because the symptoms may be mild. Additionally, not all symptoms of asthma are always related to asthma. Wheezing, a whistling sound made during ...more misdiagnosis »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Asthma

Home medical tests possibly related to Asthma:

Causes of Types of Asthma:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Asthma:

Review causes of types of Asthma in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Asthma:

Asthma: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Asthma, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Asthma Treatments

Asthma is a chronic disease that is not curable, but with regular medical care and consistent patient compliance with treatments, asthma attacks can successfully be minimized in occurrence, length and severity. The treatment goal for asthma patients is to control symptoms to a degree that allows them to live normal, active lives and to sleep comfortably.

...Asthma Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Asthma may include:

Review further information on Asthma Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Asthma

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Asthma may include:

Stories from Users for Asthma

Real-life user stories relating to Asthma:

Asthma: Animations

Medications or substances causing Asthma:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Asthma as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Asthma: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Asthma may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Asthma

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Asthma:

Asthma: Deaths

Read more about causes and Asthma deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Asthma

Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even...read more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the...read more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to...read more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines...read more »

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be...read more »

Asthma: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Asthma

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Asthma:

Asthma: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Asthma: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Article Excerpts about Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung condition with ongoing airway inflammation that results in recurring acute episodes (attacks) of breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. These symptoms occur because the inflammation makes the airways overreact to a variety of stimuli including physical activity, upper respiratory infections, allergens, and irritants. Exposure to these stimuli--often called triggers--creates more swelling and blocking of the airways. Asthma episodes can be mild, moderate, or even life-threatening. Vigorous exercise will cause symptoms for most students with asthma if their asthma is not well-controlled. Some students experience symptoms only when they exercise. However, today's treatments can successfully control asthma so that students can participate fully in physical activities most of the time. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI)

Asthma is a disease of the lung airways. With asthma, the airways are inflamed (swollen) and react easily to certain things, like viruses, smoke, or pollen. When the inflamed airways react, they get narrow and make it hard to breathe. Common asthma symptoms are wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. When these symptoms get worse, it's an asthma attack. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma Age Page: NHLBI)

Asthma is a chronic lung condition marked by labored breathing, wheezing, and/or coughing. During an asthmatic episode, bronchial tubes or airways become narrowed by the production of excess mucus, the swelling of airway linings, or the tightening of muscles around the airways. (Source: excerpt from ASTHMA: NWHIC)

Asthma is a chronic lung condition with ongoing airway inflammation that results in recurring acute... (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI)

Asthma is a disease of the lung airways. With asthma, the airways are inflamed (swollen) and... (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma Age Page: NHLBI)

Asthma is a chronic lung condition marked by labored breathing, wheezing, and/or coughing. During an... (Source: excerpt from ASTHMA: NWHIC)

Definitions of Asthma:

Form of bronchial disorder associated with airway obstruction, marked by recurrent attacks of paroxysmal dyspnea, with wheezing due to spasmodic contraction of the bronchi.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Respiratory disorder characterized by wheezing; usually of allergic origin
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Form of bronchial disorder associated with airway obstruction, marked by recurrent attacks of paroxysmal dyspnea, with wheezing due to spasmodic contraction of the bronchi.
- (Source - CRISP)

Detailed list of causes of Asthma

The list below shows some of the causes of Asthma mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Asthma?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Asthma. Of the 320 causes of Asthma that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 2 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 1 causes are "common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 2 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 317 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Asthma:

The following list of conditions have 'Asthma' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Asthma or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Asthma:

The following list of medical conditions have Asthma or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

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What are the alternative names for Asthma:

Bronchial asthma
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Classifications of Asthma:

Subtypes of Asthma:

Asthma-like reaction (2 causes)

Medical Conditions associated with Asthma:

Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Asthma-like symptoms (440 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Respiratory tract symptoms (5166 causes), Lung symptoms (3280 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

Symptoms related to Asthma:

Breathing difficulty (2922 causes), Shortness of breath (1528 causes), Chest tightness (166 causes), Allergies, Allergic reaction (49 causes), Chronic lung diseae, Breathlessness (1528 causes), Acute asthmatic attacks, Wheezing (764 causes), Inhalers, Steroids, Bronchospasm (221 causes), Beta 2 agonists

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

These general medical articles may be of interest:

Medical News summaries about Asthma

Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Asthma and many other medical conditions:

Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Asthma:

More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:

 

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