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Allergic asthma

Frequency, causes and effects

Asthma

Bronchial asthma is a prevalent chronic pulmonary disease that can affect anybody at any age. Dyspnea, coughing at night, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and tightness in the chest are typical symptoms that sufferers experience on the long road to effective diagnosis and treatment.

Asthma control in clinical practice is inadequate in a large number of patients, even though treatment options exist.1 Poor asthma control increases the risk of an asthma attack, impaired quality of life, increased use of healthcare facilities and reduced productivity.2

Asthma infografic

Asthma causes inflammation of the airways

Allergic asthma is characterized by a reversible obstruction of the airways, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and pulmonary inflammation. In patients with a genetic predisposition, the immune system reacts with an excessive immune response to inherently harmless allergens such as pollen, animal hair, or certain foods. The main contributors to this allergic reaction are so-called T-helper (Th)2 cells. By releasing cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-4, IL-13 and IL-5, they coordinate the recruitment and activation of mast cells, basophil, and eosinophil granulocytes, and the production of IgE by B cells.

How asthma symptoms develop

As with any inflammatory reaction, there is increased blood flow to the affected tissue. For the lungs, this means that the mucous membranes in the bronchial walls swell and produce excessive amounts of viscous mucus. This is accompanied by paroxysmal contractions of the bronchial musculature. As a result, the airway diameter narrows, hindering the flow of air and in particular impeding exhalation. Typical symptoms of asthma include wheezing, tightness in the chest and dyspnea.

Lung allergic asthma

1 Price et al. NPJ Prim Care Respir Med 2014;24:14009

2 Gruffydd-Jones et al. DGP 2017, Stuttgart: Poster P253