Asthma is a form of obstructive lung disease characterized by increased residual volume and decreased forced vital capacity. Obstructive lung diseases commonly have a decreased FEV1/FVC ratio as opposed to restrictive lung diseases.
Asthma is characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness in which the airways become inflamed, produce excess mucus, and constrict to triggers such as cold air, dust, pollen, exercise or smoke.
A history of atopic disease is a strong risk factor for the development of asthma with asthma occurring at a much greater rate in those who have either eczema or hay fever.
β2 agonists, like albuterol, cause bronchodilation and are one of the main treatment modalities of asthma.
Corticosteroids are one of the main treatment modalities for moderate to severe asthma. Side effects of inhaled corticosteroids can include sore throat, oral candidiasis and hoarseness.
Curschmann’s spirals refer to parts of desquamated epithelium that form mucus plugs in the sputum of asthmatic patients.
Chronic asthma can lead to smooth muscle hypertrophy of the airways which contributes to further bronchoconstriction.
A key component to the diagnosis of asthma is demonstrating the reversibility of symptoms. If the FEV1 measured via spirometry improves more than 12% following administration of a bronchodilator, this is supportive of the diagnosis.
Charcot Leyden crystals are microscopic crystals found in people who have allergic diseases such as asthma or parasitic infection and are indicative of a disease involving eosinophilic inflammation or proliferation.
This is a medical test used to assist in the diagnosis of asthma in which the patient breathes in nebulized metacholine. Methacholine provokes bronchoconstriction and people with pre-existing airway hyperreactivity, such as asthmatics, will react to lower doses of drug.
Narrowing of the airways can cause wheezing, which is one of the classic symptoms of asthma.
Coughing is one of the major symptoms of asthma and is usually worse at night.
Individuals with a bout of asthma commonly have decreased PaCO2 levels due to hyperventilation. Increased PaCO2 levels are a sign of respiratory muscle fatigue, decompensation and worsening respiratory distress.
Pulsus paradoxus is defined as a drop of more than 10 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure during inspiration. Severe asthma can cause pulsus paradoxus.
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