Pathophysiological Processes in Asthma

Topic: Pulmonology
Words: 953 Pages: 3


Asthma is a respiratory disease accompanied by chronic inflammation of the airways and various symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest congestion, etcetera. The symptoms of the illness differ in frequency of occurrence and depend on the contact of triggering factors such as smoke, cold, the level of humidity, seasonal blooming, etcetera. They also depend on the presence of comorbidities and may respond differently to a treatment. Asthma can be accompanied by attacks of wheezing and coughing, which vary in time and intensity and occur with variable airway obstruction. Both adults and children are susceptible to the disease, but among children, the percentage is higher. At least 300 million patients worldwide have bronchial asthma and need medication. Emergency departments accept up to 12% of calls, of which 20-30% require immediate hospitalization. About 4-7% of patients may be in severe condition and require long-term medical supervision in intensive care units (Lotfus & Wise, 2016). The severity of asthma is closely related to the general standard of living in the country. The most devastating effects of the disease are seen in low-income countries, where medical facilities cannot provide timely treatment.

Etiology and Risk Factors

Asthma is caused by chronic inflammation of the airways and a strong reaction of affected lung tissue to irritants. The average annual prevalence of asthma among adults is 7.7%, and the incidence in children is 9.5%. Among children, the number of boys experiencing asthma is notably more than the number of girls. At the age of 20, the difference between men and women practically disappears, and at the age of 40, asthma develops more often in women (Loftus & Wise, 2016). One of the severe factors influencing the frequency of asthma attacks is environmental conditions. A person living in a place with high air pollution, humidity, and sudden temperature changes is more at risk of getting sick. If one of the parents is sick, bronchial asthma is detected in 30% of children. In addition to genetics and the environment, lifestyle influences the course of the disease (Horak et al., 2016). People who are prone to obesity, smoking, overwork, and lack of exercise are more likely to flare up asthma.

Pathophysiological Processes

With a severe course of the disease, there may be sharp distension of the lungs in combination with emphysema. The lungs fill the entire chest cavity; ribs are visible on the surface of the affected lung tissue. The height of the standing of the diaphragm is determined approximately at the level of the 6th rib. The chest is in the maximum inhalation position forcing patients to tilt their body forward while trying to breathe. The respiratory process relies on the muscles of the shoulder girdle, back, and abdominal wall (Horak et al., 2016). Bronchial asthma can also be manifested by the development of respiratory failure, cyanosis, heart palpitations, severe wheezing, and increased sweating.

Clinical Manifestations and Complications

In addition to visible shortness of breath and chest pain, signs and symptoms of asthma can include severe sleep problems due to lack of oxygen and increased respiratory response to seasonal flu-like illnesses. Sometimes the manifestations of the initial stage of asthma can be easily confused with a cold. The late diagnosis can cause complications in the heart muscle, gastrointestinal tract, and brain function. Doctors should look for specific signs of asthma, such as redness or blue discoloration of the face, tachycardia, dilated pupils, nausea, and vomiting (Trevor & Chipps, 2018). The patient may experience a frequent unproductive cough in the morning and evening, prolonged drowsiness, and apathy.


An efficient diagnosis of asthma requires timely consultation with a general physician. Additional data on a more detailed examination is obtained with clinical tests such as spirometry, FeNO, and peak flow. Spirometry and peak flow test use a specific measuring device that calculates the breathing rate to see the deviation from the norm. The FeNO test requires breathing into a machine to measure nitric oxide, which can be a sign of inflammation in the lungs (Horak et al., 2016). Timely diagnosis is essential to ensure effective treatment and prevent irreversible, severe disease-related consequences.

Interview with a Person with Asthma.

For the interview, I chose my twenty-year-old childhood friend Julia. I have known her since she was six years old; all this time, she had asthma. The disease is not severe; most of the time, Julia can breathe easily. The exacerbation of the disease begins in the spring and is accompanied by an allergic reaction to flowers. It confirms the relationship between the occurrence of illness and the state of the environment. Julia starts to cough up phlegm, experiences chronic fatigue, and the need to use medication. During an exacerbation of asthma, Julia suffers from sleep deprivation due to suffocation and chest congestion. It significantly affects her physical and emotional well-being. She does not have any additional health problems that could worsen the manifestations of asthma. However, even asthma itself severely limits physical activity and increases health risks during periods of heightened stress. Julia gets good support from family and friends but wants better health and stamina for traveling together. Her responses showed that people with asthma could easily live and function normally with proper attention to health and treatment.


Asthma is a common disease in people regardless of gender and age. Its main symptoms are shortness of breath and a severe suffocating cough. The incidence of asthma and the severity of the disease are closely related to the general standard of living in the country. The course of an illness can be influenced by a variety of risk factors, including environmental conditions, stress levels, and the effects of other sicknesses. For the most effective treatment, timely consultation with a specialist is required.


Horak, F., Doberer, D., Eber, E., Horak, E., Pohl, W., Riedler, J., Szepfalusi, Z., Wantke, F., Zacharasiewicz, A., & Studnicka, M. (2016). Diagnosis and management of asthma – Statement on the 2015 GINA guidelines. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 128(15), 541–544. Web.

Loftus, P. A., & Wise, S. K. (2016). Epidemiology of asthma. National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information, 24(3), 245–249. Web.

Treveor, J. L., & Chipps, B. E. (2018). Severe asthma in primary care: Identification and management. The American Journal of Medidcine, 131(15), 484–491. Web.

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