In his book, Essential Allergy, Niels Mygind defines asthma as, “A lung disease characterised by: 1, variable and reversible airway obstruction; 2, airway inflammation; and 3, bronchial hyper-responsiveness.”
Asthma is a disease where bronchial tubes are sensitive to irritants, which cause them to inflame and produce difficult breathing. The inflammation can cause,
* contraction of muscles around the air passages,
* swelling of the airway lining due to airway inflammation, and,
* excessive mucus in the airways.
Asthma occurs in most western countries and is the leading chronic illness of children. Asthma, in some cases, cannot be cured, but for most patients it can be controlled so that they have only minimal and infrequent symptoms and they can live an active life.
If you have asthma, managing it is an important part of your life. Controlling your asthma means staying away from things that bother your airways and taking medicines or natural remedies as directed by your doctor.
When a person experiences a worsening of their asthma symptoms, it is called an asthma episode or, in severe cases, an asthma attack. During an asthma attack, smooth muscles around the bronchial tubes contract, making the airway openings narrower so less air can flow through. Inflammation increases and the airways become more swollen and narrow. Cells in the airways also make more mucus than usual, which narrows the airways further. The changes to the airways cause the symptoms of asthma.
Asthma attacks are not all the same-some are worse than others. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. This condition is a medical emergency. People can die from severe asthma attacks. A person suffering from an asthma attack has a sensation similar to drowning.
Learning the warning signs or asthma symptoms can often alert a sufferer in time to take preventive action, such as medication or natural remedies.
Asthma attacks can occur over a long period of time. Although there are times when acute episodes strike asthmatics, most asthma sufferers say that there are long periods during which they suffer few, if any, asthma symptoms.