The word asthma has originated from an ancient Greek word meaning panting. Essentially asthma is a chronic and recurring inflammation of the airways (bronchi) that results in obstruction of airflow. Asthma is very common all over the world, in all age groups. It may start in as early as months old baby to elder age group. Asthma is largely controllable and to an extent curable, depending on the stage and extent of the disease.
Asthma is commonly misspelled as astm, asthma, astha, asthma. Asthma is called as Dama in Hindi.
What happens in Asthma? (Pathogenesis)
There is a decrease in the lumen of the airways resulting from a two-fold response to the allergens and other irritants. Primarily in a hyper-reactive response, the smooth muscles in the airways constrict and narrow excessively. Followed by an inflammatory response where the immune system responds to the allergens by sending white blood cells and other immune factors to the airways. These inflammatory factors cause a swelling of the airways and also an increase in the mucus secretion thus causing symptoms like wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath.
Children aged 2-12 years reported higher rates of asthma (15.7%) than adults aged 16 years and over (10.1%). In males, the prevalence of asthma was highest among children aged 2-12 years; in females, prevalence was highest among young adults aged 16-24 years. Asthma is also closely linked to allergies. Most, but not all, people with asthma have allergies. Children with a family history of allergy and asthma are more likely to have asthma.