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What is Allergic Asthma?

Updated on July 22, 2010

Allergic asthma is a form of asthma that is caused by inhalation of an airborne antigen, which gets seated in the bronchial mucosa. This airborne antigen is a foreign body, which causes production of antibodies that bind the mast cells in the bronchial tree, which stimulates bronchial contraction causing asthma allergy and mucosal edema. In other words, NKT cells release cytokines in response to allergens, causing inflammation. Due to this condition, the air passages become mucous filled and inflamed. Asthma is the most prominent allergic disease and is also the most prominent chronic disease in childhood. Understanding allergic asthma is important due to its severity, disabling, and life-threatening nature. Allergic asthma causes a great impact on personal life, family life, social life, and economic life, and overall health of the patient. In children, allergic asthma has been the main cause of absence from school and loss of workdays for parents or caregivers. This disease can limit the physical and social activity of the patient and can cause a great psychological impact. Symptoms of asthma basically include wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Allergic asthma patients experience dry cough in the initial stages and then cough becomes productive with secretions. Wheezing is a type of whistle heard in the chest region that is produced by the passage of breath and can be detected with a stethoscope.

Allergic asthma also involves shortness of breath or dyspnea in which the air is not able to properly enter the chest, which results in a felling of tightness in and around the chest region. This happens due to narrowing of the bronchi, which slows down the movement of air via the airways. All these symptoms can appear together or separately. The intensity, frequency and duration of these symptoms are highly variable between different patients and in the same patient at different times. Most often these symptoms occur intermittently after a period of no symptoms at all. Some patients experience these symptoms on a constant basis. The onset of allergic asthma can be abrupt, even minutes in question, or gradually over several days with symptoms worsening at nighttime. For this level of allergic asthma, the doctor can prescribe oral medications, inhalers, and injections. These drugs are for symptomatic treatment of the disease. The purpose of the asthma medications, inhalers, and injections is to dilate the bronchi so that there is no obstruction in breathing. This treatment is generally used over short periods of time and tends to clear away the symptoms for the time being, but after some time, the symptoms again reoccur.

Allergic asthma reference chart
Allergic asthma reference chart

It has been found that people with asthma have an inflammation of the bronchi causing bronchial constriction. This inflammation of the lining of the bronchi produces a situation called bronchial hyperresponsiveness, which is an aggressive form of bronchial contraction. To reduce bronchial inflammation, various drugs are used via inhalation and orally and this treatment is called as preventive treatment. The effects of this treatment are not immediate, but are beneficial in the longer term and can last for years. The purpose of this preventive treatment is to suppress the symptoms. The most common cause of asthma is an allergic reaction to various substances called as allergens that are in the environment around us. According to senior doctors, probably all asthma cases are due to an allergic reaction to something. It is not easy in all patients to find out what substance or substances that cause them allergies and it is not really necessary in acute cases but in chronic cases of allergic asthma, it becomes really important to find out the root cause of the disease.

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