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Asthma


Asthma (from the Greek ἅσθμα, ásthma, "panting") is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm.[ Common symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Its diagnosis is usually based on the pattern of symptoms, response to therapy over time and spirometry. It is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate.] Asthma may also be classified as atopic (extrinsic) or non-atopic (intrinsic)[7] where atopy refers to a predisposition toward developing type 1 hypersensitivityreactions.

Treatment of acute symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist (such as salbutamol) and oral corticosteroids. In very severe cases, intravenous corticosteroids, magnesium sulfate, and hospitalization may be required. Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens[ and irritants, and by the use of inhaled corticosteroids. Long-acting beta agonists (LABA) or leukotriene antagonists may be used in addition to inhaled corticosteroids if asthma symptoms remain uncontrolled.The occurrence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. In 2011, 235–300 million people globally have been diagnosed with asthma, and it caused 250,000 deaths,.

Signs and symptoms
Asthma is characterized by recurrent episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Sputum may be produced from the lung by coughing but is often hard to bring up. During recovery from an attack, it may appear pus-like due to high levels of white blood cells called eosinophils.]Symptoms are usually worse at night and in the early morning or in response to exercise or cold air. Some people with asthma rarely experience symptoms, usually in response to triggers, whereas others may have marked and persistent symptoms.

Associated conditions
A number of other health conditions occur more frequently in those with asthma, including gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), rhinosinusitis, and obstructive sleep apnea. Psychological disorders are also more common, with anxiety disorders occurring in between 16–52% and mood disorders in 14–41%. However, it is not known if asthma causes psychological problems or if psychological problems lead to asthma.

Causes
Asthma is characterized by recurrent episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Sputum may be produced from the lung by coughing but is often hard to bring up. During recovery from an attack, it may appear pus-like due to high levels of white blood cells called eosinophils.]Symptoms are usually worse at night and in the early morning or in response to exercise or cold air. Some people with asthma rarely experience symptoms, usually in response to triggers, whereas others may have marked and persistent symptoms.

Environmental
Many environmental factors have been associated with asthma's development and exacerbation including allergens, air pollution, and other environmental chemicals. Smoking during pregnancy and after delivery is associated with a greater risk of asthma-like symptoms. Low air quality from factors such as traffic pollution or high ozone levels has been associated with both asthma development and increased asthma severity. Exposure to indoor volatile organic compounds may be a trigger for asthma; formaldehyde exposure, for example, has a positive association. Also, phthalates in certain types of PVC are associated with asthma in children and adults. There is an association between acetaminophen (paracetamol) use and asthma. The majority of the evidence does not; however, support a causal role. Use by a mother during pregnancy is also associated with an increased risk.

Asthma is associated with exposure to indoor allergens. Common indoor allergens include: dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, and mold. Efforts to decrease dust mites have been found to be ineffective. Certain viral respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus, may increase the risk of developing asthma when acquired as young children. Certain other infections, however, may decrease the risk.

Hygiene hypothesis
The hygiene hypothesis attempts to explain the increased rates of asthma worldwide as a direct and unintended result of reduced exposure, during childhood, to non-pathogenic bacteria and viruses. It has been proposed that the reduced exposure to bacteria and viruses is due, in part, to increased cleanliness and decreased family size in modern societies. Exposure to bacterial endotoxin in early childhood may prevent the development of asthma, but exposure at an older age may provoke broncho constriction. Evidence supporting the hygiene hypothesis includes lower rates of asthma on farms and in households with pets.

Use of antibiotics in early life has been linked to the development of asthma. Also, delivery via caesarean section is associated with an increased risk (estimated at 20–80%) of asthma—this increased risk is attributed to the lack of healthy bacterial colonization that the newborn would have acquired from passage through the birth canal. There is a link between asthma and the degree of affluence.

Diagnosis
While asthma is a well recognized condition, there is not one universal agreed upon definition. It is defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma as "a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. The chronic inflammation is associated with airway hyper-responsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction within the lung that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment".

There is currently no precise test with the diagnosis typically based on the pattern of symptoms and response to therapy over time. A diagnosis of asthma should be suspected if there is a history of: recurrent wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing and these symptoms occur or worsen due to exercise, viral infections, allergens or air pollution.] Spirometry is then used to confirm the diagnosis. In children under the age of six the diagnosis is more difficult as they are too young for spirometry

Spirometry
Spirometry is recommended to aid in diagnosis and management. It is the single best test for asthma. If the FEV1 measured by this technique improves more than 12% following administration of a bronchodilator such as salbutamol, this is supportive of the diagnosis. It however may be normal in those with a history of mild asthma, not currently acting up. As caffeine is a bronchodilator in people with asthma, the use of caffeine before a lung function test may interfere with the results. Single-breath diffusing capacity can help differentiate asthma from COPD. It is reasonable to perform spirometry every one or two years to follow how well a person's asthma is controlled.

Others
The methacholine challenge involves the inhalation of increasing concentrations of a substance that causes airway narrowing in those predisposed. If negative it means that a person does not have asthma; if positive, however, it is not specific for the disease.

Other supportive evidence includes: a ≥20% difference in peak expiratory flow rate on at least three days in a week for at least two weeks, a ≥20% improvement of peak flow following treatment with either salbutamol, inhaled corticosteroids or prednisone, or a ≥20% decrease in peak flow following exposure to a trigger. Testing peak expiratory flow is more variable than spirometry, however, and thus not recommended for routine diagnosis. It may be useful for daily self-monitoring in those with moderate to severe disease and for checking the effectiveness of new medications. It may also be helpful in guiding treatment in those with acute exacerbations.

Asthma is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate. Asthma may also be classified as atopic (extrinsic) or non-atopic (intrinsic), based on whether symptoms are precipitated by allergens (atopic) or not (non-atopic). While asthma is classified based on severity, at the moment there is no clear method for classifying different subgroups of asthma beyond this system. Finding ways to identify subgroups that respond well to different types of treatments is a current critical goal of asthma research.

Although asthma is a chronic obstructive condition, it is not considered as a part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as this term refers specifically to combinations of disease that are irreversible such as bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Unlike these diseases, the airway obstruction in asthma is usually reversible; however, if left untreated, the chronic inflammation from asthma can lead the lungs to become irreversibly obstructed due to airway remodeling. In contrast to emphysema, asthma affects the bronchi, not the alveoli.



Classification

Clinical classification (≥ 12 years old)[6]

Severity Symptom frequency Night time symptoms  %FEV1 of predicted FEV1Variability SABA use
Intermittent ≤2/week ≤2/month ≥80% <20% ≤2 days/week
Mild persistent >2/week 3–4/month ≥80% 20–30% >2 days/week
Moderate persistent Daily >1/week 60–80% >30% daily
Severe persistent Continuously Frequent (7×/week) <60% >30% ≥twice/day

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