Asthma (Allergic and Non-Allergic)


Asthma is a disorder characterized by reversible narrowing (bronchospasm) and inflammation of the airways with subsequent shortness of breathing, tightness of the chest and wheezing. Depending upon the triggering factor asthma can be allergic or non-allergic. A wide variety of factors starting from exposure to pollens to depression can precipitate an attack of asthma.

Asthma is often associated with childhood and early life, but can persist throughout life. The condition affects the quality of life of the patient, interfering with sleep and daily functioning. In children it can even compromise growth and normal development. Fortunately there are various drugs now available for the treatment and long term management of asthma.


Some patients only suffer from mild bouts of shortness of breathing with long symptom-free intervals, whereas in others there is chronic breathing difficulty with frequent acute aggravation of symptoms.

  • Shortness of breath: increased with exercise or cold exposure.
  • Wheezing: It is the whistling sound produced during difficulty in breathing. Wheezing increases during early morning and night, exposure to cold air, exercise, emotional stress and rising stomach acid.
  • Cough: sputum may be present-as excess mucous secretion occurs in asthma.
  • Tightness of chest.

There are some very serios symptoms which requires immediate medical attention and urgent hospitalization. These warning signs include :

  • Bluish color of lips, nail bed
  • Drowsiness, confusion
  • Sudden temporary stoppage of breathing
  • Profuse sweating

Depending on the severity, availability of treatment and emergencyl management, asthma can lead to :

  • Death
  • Respiratory failure
  • Depression due to the poor quality of life
  • Growth retardation


Causes of asthma can be classified under two headings environmental (allergic asthma) and genetic. In most cases interplay of the two factors is responsible.


  • Allergen: pollen, dust mite, mold, pet animals (hair, dander), food (peanut, sea fish, eggs and so on)
  • Exposure to cold air
  • Air pollutants (traffic)
  • Exercise
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Emotional stress
  • Drug induced: aspirin and other NSAIDs
  • Acidity (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Preservatives added in food


Asthma may run in the family along with allergic rhinitis and eczema. Usually a favorable genetic make-up for asthma along with favorable environmental factor produces asthma.

Risk factors

There are various risk factors making a person vulnerable to asthma :

  • Family history
  • Obesity (BMI>30)
  • Smoking (active and passive)
  • Excessive exposure to traffic pollutants
  • Occupational exposure to chemicals
  • Low birth weight, cesarean section delivery
  • Current hygiene practices prevent exposure of children to bacteria, viruses leading to decreased infection. This may increase the chance of development of asthma in children of developed countries.


There is no cure for asthma but effective medication can improve the symptoms. The aim of treatment is prevent an attack and manage the symptoms during an acute episode.

Prevention of attack :

  • by avoiding precipitating factors
  • lifestyle modification (cessation of smoking)

Medication :

  • Steroids: Beclomethasone, budesonide, fluticasone (inhalational), prednisolone (oral).
  • Combination of inhalational steroids and long acting β agonists ( salmeterol and fluticasone).
  • Mast cell stabilizer namely cromolyn sodium.

Management of acute attack:

  • Short acting (bronchodialators): for immediate relief.
  • β agonists: Salbutamol, yurbutaline (via inhalers or nebulizer)
  • Anticholinergics: Ipratropium (inhaler)
  • Aminophylline: Theophylline (oral or injection)

Other measures :

  • Moist oxygen inhalation
  • Heliox inhalation (mixture of helium and oxygen)

Outcome of treatment is generally favorable in children as they usually outgrow the symptoms.

More Related Topics

Related pages

hair dye itchy scalpsulphur fartsloud stomach gurgling at nightpartial ureteral obstructionorgans under ribs right sideinflamed cervix causeshow do you get pregnant with pcostightness and pressure in lower abdomensharp pains under left rib cageworms picswhere are the cervical lymph nodes locatedfingernail symptoms of diseasesulphur smelling windclavicle collarbonefeet cracking and bleedingirregular periods after childbirthcoughing up mucus in the morningdull ache right side of abdomenwhy does the vagina smell fishydiarrhea 5 minutes after eatinginflammation of the urethraflank pain left sidecauses of facial swellingdizziness reasons symptomsleft side under ribs painbody odor during menstruationdiscolored fingernailexpectoration of mucusskin rashes from hivloud digestionurine foul smellfoul odor gas passingbreast itchy rashantifungal cream for groin areapains near ovariesrecurrent subluxationwatery diarrhea causesrib cage painshard to wipe stoolright side pain below rib cagewhat does brown spotting before period meanlubrication womenreason for constant burpingdiarrhea irritationpain in left arm from elbow to wristchild vomiting yellowtemporary paresthesiacoughing up mucus chunksclavicle swollenitchy vag during periodcandida skin infectionedema face causesphlegm diseasesulfur burps and diarrhea while pregnantextreme pain upper abdomenblack specks in stool ibsskin fungus chestcrystal meth odorsevere abdominal pain left side under rib cagefrothy watery diarrheaheavy bleeding and blood clots during periodyeast infection sores picturesskin itching without rashconsistent burpingcauses of forearm painhyperpigmentation of lipsblobs of mucus in stoolburping with acid refluxpain above left breast below collar bonereason for coughing up bloodheavy period and clotsinflamed diaphragmsmelly viginal dischargeclear thick mucusprominent xiphoid process adults