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What Does Asthma Do To The Body

What Happens To The Lungs In Asthma

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

Asthma is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become either narrowed or completely blocked, obstructing normal breathing. This obstruction of the lungs, however, is reversible, either spontaneously or with medication . That is why asthma is technically called Reversible Obstructive Airway Disease . The basic abnormality causing asthma is the hyper responsive reaction of the body to specific and non-specific stimuli.

Air reaches the lung through the windpipe , which divides into two large tubes , one for each lung. Each bronchi further divides into many little tubes , which eventually lead to tiny air sacs , in which oxygen from the air is transferred to the bloodstream, and carbon dioxide from the bloodstream is transferred to the air.

Although the airways normally have the potential for constricting in response to allergens or irritants, the asthmatics airways are more prone to constriction due to increased response to allergens. This insult makes the airways more prone to infection leading to inflammation and swelling causing further constriction of the pipes. Infection also causes increased mucus production and this clogs the narrowed airways.

Once the airways have become obstructed, it takes more effort to force air through them and breathing becomes labored. This forcing of air through constricted airways can make a whistling sound, called wheezing. Irritation of the airways by excessive mucus may also provoke coughing.

What Is An Asthma Attack

An asthma attack is the episode in which bands of muscle around the airways are triggered to tighten. This tightening is called bronchospasm. During the attack, the lining of the airways becomes swollen or inflamed, and the cells lining the airways make more and thicker mucus than normal.

All of these things — bronchospasm, inflammation, and mucus production — cause symptoms such as trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and trouble with normal daily activities.

Other symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
  • Coughing that won’t stop
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails

An asthma attack can get worse quickly, so it’s important to treat these symptoms right away.

Without immediate treatment, such as with your asthma inhaler or bronchodilator, it will become harder to breathe. If you use a peak flow meter at this time, the reading will probably be less than 50% of your usual or normal peak flow reading.. Many asthma action plans suggest interventions starting at 80% of normal.

As your lungs continue to tighten, you wonât be able to use the peak flow meter at all. Your lungs will tighten so there is not enough air movement to make wheezing. You need to go to a hospital right away. Unfortunately, some people think that the disappearance of wheezing is a sign of improvement and donât get emergency care.

Research For Your Health

The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical;research;agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including asthma. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.

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What We Know About Asthma And Covid

Asthma is a pre-existing lung condition affecting 1 in 13 people in the U.S. It can cause wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath. Asthma can be controlled by taking medications and avoiding triggers.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus affects cells in the airways, from the nose and throat down to the deepest parts of the lungs. In the nose and throat it might cause symptoms of a cold. In the upper airways, it might cause some breathlessness and cough. When the coronavirus lodges itself deep in the lungs, this is when things can start to get serious. Here, the coronavirus commonly causes a double lung infection, or bilateral pneumonia.;

Interestingly, research so far does not suggest any link between having asthma and getting a more severe COVID-19 illness, or between asthma and coronavirus deaths.;

Whether this is because the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesnt affect people with asthma in the same way as other respiratory viruses, or because there simply isnt enough data yet, remains to be seen.;

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DISCLAIMER: All material available on is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. All information is observation-only. Our phase IV clinical studies alone cannot establish cause-effect relationship. Different individuals may respond to medication in different ways. Every effort has been made to ensure that all information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. The use of the eHealthMe site and its content is at your own risk.

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Acute Asthma Attack Symptoms

An acute asthma attack is a medical emergency youll must seek immediate medical help and go to hospital.

Acute asthma attack symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Rapid breathing that doesnt ease with use of a reliever inhaler
  • Extreme shortness of breath being unable to inhale or exhale fully
  • An inability to speak in full sentences
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Developing a blue tint on the face, lips or fingernails.

If you dont seek treatment for an acute asthma attack, your life could be in danger. Find out more about acute asthma by reading our guide to severe asthma.

Third Stage: Moderate Persistent Asthma

At this stage, asthma is beginning to significantly affect quality of life on a daily basis, unless treated. It becomes difficult to ignore.

Symptoms. In moderate persistent asthma, daytime symptoms occur every day. Nighttime symptoms are also more common, becoming noticeable 5 or more times a month. Flare-ups are more frequent and likely affect the activity level.

Lung function tests. At this stage, the FEV1 has deteriorated, measuring above 60% but below 80% of normal values.;Peak flow readings are showing more than 30% variability.

Treatment. For this level of asthma, the preferred controller medication is a low-dose inhaled corticosteroid, plus a long-acting beta-agonist. These are usually packaged in the form of a combination inhaler. Another option is an inhaled medium-dose steroid. And, of course, a quick-relief inhaler will be prescribed as needed to deal with flare-ups.

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How Common Is Asthma In The United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 1 in 13 people has asthma.

  • More than 25 million Americans have asthma. This is 7.7 percent of adults and 8.4 percent of children. Asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s in all age, sex and racial groups.
  • Asthma is more common in adult women than adult men.
  • African Americans in the U.S. die from asthma at a higher rate than people of other races or ethnicities.
  • More than 11.4 million people with asthma, including more than 3 million children, report having had one or more asthma episodes or attacks in 2017.
  • Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children.
  • Currently, there are about 6.2 million children under the age of 18 with asthma.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma Types

What is Asthma? | Operation Ouch | Nugget
  • coughing, and
  • difficulty speaking.
  • Symptoms may occur during the day or at night. If they happen at night, they may disturb your sleep.

    Wheezing is the most common symptom of an asthma attack.

  • Wheezing is a musical, whistling, or hissing sound with breathing.
  • Wheezes are most often heard during exhalation, but they can occur during breathing in .
  • Not all asthmatics wheeze, and not all people who wheeze are asthmatics.
  • Current guidelines for the care of people with asthma include classifying the severity of asthma symptoms, as follows:

  • Mild intermittent: This includes attacks no more than twice a week and nighttime attacks no more than twice a month. Attacks last no more than a few hours to days. Severity of attacks varies, but there are no symptoms between attacks.
  • Mild persistent: This includes attacks more than twice a week, but not every day, and nighttime symptoms more than twice a month. Attacks are sometimes severe enough to interrupt regular activities.
  • Moderate persistent: This includes daily attacks and nighttime symptoms more than once a week. More severe asthma attacks occur at least twice a week and may last for days. Attacks require daily use of quick-relief medication and changes in daily activities.
  • Severe persistent: This includes frequent severe attacks, continual daytime symptoms, and frequent nighttime symptoms. Symptoms require limits on daily activities.

    The exact cause of asthma is not known.

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    How To Avoid Asthma Triggers

    If you know what your asthma triggers are, then where possible, its beneficial to try to avoid them.

    If theres a particular allergen culprit you know of, then keeping your home clean and dust-free can help. For example, you could consider swapping carpets for wooden floors to reduce the amount of dust build-up or hiring a cleaner so youre not personally exposed to dust when cleaning.

    It can be more difficult to avoid asthma triggers completely when youre at work, especially if your asthma is occupational and linked to your working environment. In an ideal world, you could simply change jobs to something more suitable for your health, but in reality this isnt always feasible.

    Let your employer or the HR department know about your asthma. You should be able to discuss the options available for optimising your work environment to be more suitable to your needs.

    Keeping on top of your asthma management plan, working alongside your doctor or asthma nurse and making sure you take your inhalers or other asthma medications should help to control your symptoms. Making practical lifestyle choices is important too, like eating healthily, exercising and not smoking.

    It can also be beneficial to learn an asthma breathing technique. There are various breathing techniques that can help asthma and knowing how to breathe properly could help if something unexpectedly triggers an attack.

    Why Do People Get Asthma

    Research has yet to show a definitive cause of asthma. However, researchers have determined several risk factors that can lead to asthma development.

    Family History and Genetics

    Children of mothers with asthma are three times more likely to suffer from asthma, and 2.5 times more likely if the father has asthma. More than 30 genes have been linked to asthma so far, and gene-gene interactions, gene-environment interactions and epigenetic modifications also play a part. Genetic differences also play a role in differences in response to treatment.


    People are more likely to have asthma if they have certain types of allergies, such ones which can affect the eyes and nose. However, not everyone who has allergies will get asthma and not everyone who has asthma is affected by allergies. Respiratory allergies and some types of asthma are related to an antibody called immunoglobulin E , which the immune system produces in response to allergens. To protect the body, the IgE causes allergic reactions that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin.

    Premature Birth

    Children born before 37 weeks are at increased risk of developing asthma later in life.

    Lung Infections

    Babies or small children may be at risk of developing asthma later in life if they had certain lung infections at a very early age.

    Occupational Exposures


    Women can develop adult-onset asthma during or after menopause.

    Environment Air Quality


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    What Causes An Asthma Attack

    An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to asthma triggers. Your asthma triggers can be very different from someone elses asthma triggers. Know your triggers and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you cant avoid your triggers. Some of the most common triggers are tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, cockroach allergen, pets, mold, smoke from burning wood or grass, and infections like flu.

    What Does Asthma Do To The Body

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    You already know that the muscles in your lungs tighten during an asthma episode. The bronchial tubes may become swollen or otherwise irritated. What else does asthma do to the body? Thats a great question.

    According to American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, asthma causes a semi-permanent inflammation in the lungs airways. That means your airways are swollen and red. Theyre characterized as being in a hypersensitive state that can be irritated by any small trigger. Some of these triggers, outlined in Asthma Attacks: Triggers and Treatments, include pet dander, smoke, chemicals, dust, cold or warm weather, pollen, stress, and illness.

    Unfortunately, its very normal for someone to be scared or fatigued after suffering an asthma attack. Even seconds of this frightening breathlessness can feel like hours, and your body needs time to recover from the shock of what happened.

    Thats why you will have to take care of yourself in the days following an asthma attack. Your lungs are in a weakened state, which makes you more susceptible to a second or third attack. This risk is high over several days, so keep your asthma care a high priority.

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    Can Asthma Be Cured

    Most people with asthma are able to control their condition if they work together with a health care provider and follow their treatment regimen carefully.

    People who do not seek medical care or do not follow an appropriate treatment plan are likely to experience worsening of their asthma and deterioration in their ability to function normally.

    What Does Asthma Do To Your Body

    Have you ever experienced an involuntary sensation of breathlessness? Your chest tightens as your lungs struggle to find air, and you search your pockets for relief in the form of an inhaler. For many people, this occurrence is the result of a common lung disease called asthma.

    Your bodys bronchial tubes are responsible for moving air through your lungs. Theyre surrounded by muscles, which, in non-asthma patients, remain still for natural, easy breathing. Once asthma strikes, the bronchial tubes are strained as those nearby muscles tighten. The sensation of breathlessness is no longer just a sensation, but a literal symptom.

    If you have asthma, you may know this and related symptoms including chest rattling, coughing and wheezing all too well. Have you ever wondered if your asthma is having long-term effects on your health? What happens to your lungs each time you have an attack? What about the rest of your body? If the answer is yes, youre not alone.

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    How Serious Is Asthma

    Tragically, three people die every day because of asthma attacks and research shows that two thirds of asthma deaths are preventable.;

    The reassuring fact is that most people with asthma who get the right treatment -;and take it correctly -;can manage their symptoms and get on with what they want to do in life.

    What Happens To The Body In A Person Diagnosed With Asthma

    What Severe Asthma Looks Like | WebMD

    The underlying mechanism of asthma is usually a chronic inflammation of the airways, which is exacerbated by triggers .

    Airway Hyperresponsiveness describes the predisposition for the airways to respond to triggers in an exaggerated and reactive way. It involves an increased sensitivity to triggers as well as an excessive constriction of the airways when exposed to them .

    When exposed to triggers, the airways undergo physical changes that result in intermittent airway narrowing. These are:

    • Bronchoconstriction: The smooth muscle in the wall of the airways contracts, becoming tighter and narrower. This muscle contracts more easily and strongly in people with asthma.
    • Inflammation and swelling of the airway walls, reducing space.
    • Excessive mucus production, which blocks the inside of the airways.

    There is no single reliable test to diagnose asthma. Diagnosis is based on the individuals history, physical examination, considering other diagnoses and noting variable airflow limitation. Spirometry is the recommended method for confirming the diagnosis, assessing severity and monitoring asthma .

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    What Does Obesity Do To You

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    Obesity is the root cause of all diseases. If you become obese, you may also have asthma. It can cause heart problems. In the same way, due to being overweight, our joints, which used to be carrying a certain weight, are now overweight, which leads to joint pain. Excess body fat is responsible for joint diseases, according to medical experts. Excess body weight increases the load on the knees, elbows, and ankles, leading to traumatic illness.

    In the same way, problems with the digestive system come to the fore and the liver, the fatty liver of the liver, sleep problems, and then intestinal obstruction, constipation. And for some, as a baby gets older, they will outgrow this. And again, this would mean that you have to spend on these processes. Insulin is the hormone that carries glucose out of the bloodstream. In obese people, it never works, never. As a result, blood glucose starts to accumulate, which over time leads to various medical problems. Diabetes, in particular, leads to diabetes type 2. According to research, obesity also increases the risk of developing many types of cancer. These are the problems that start to appear with obesity, and both men and women suffer equally.

    In women, in particular, an increase of one centimeter in belly fat increases the risk of death by up to eight percent. In contrast, an increase in belly fat every ten centimeters in men increases the risk of death by twelve percent.


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