How Asthma Affects the Respiratory System

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Asthma Explained: Symptoms and Asthma Attacks

Asthma is a condition with varying symptoms, often influenced by inflammation within the respiratory system. Understanding these symptoms and what happens during an asthma attack is key to managing the condition effectively.

Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms are not constant; they fluctuate, with periods of wellness and exacerbation.

Inflammation in the Respiratory System

  • Bronchial Inflammation: The bronchi and bronchioles become inflamed, leading to respiratory distress.
  • Mucous Gland Swelling: Asthmatics have swollen mucous glands, contributing to airway obstruction.

Narrowing of the Airways

The combination of inflamed bronchi and swollen mucous glands results in a narrowed airway, often manifesting as a wheeze or cough.

Body's Response to Narrowed Airways

Similar to the body's reaction to a cold, asthmatics may experience coughing as an attempt to clear the airways, although this is often ineffective due to the nature of the condition.

What Happens During an Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack is a severe exacerbation of the condition, significantly impacting breathing.

Muscle Contraction and Mucous Overproduction

  • Airway Constriction: During an attack, the muscles in the bronchi and bronchioles contract, further narrowing the airways.
  • Excessive Mucous: The glands produce thick mucous, exacerbating airway narrowing and complicating breathing.

Consequences of an Asthma Attack

The combination of airway constriction and mucous overproduction can dangerously restrict oxygen supply to the lungs, making breathing exceedingly difficult.