Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Asthma


An inflammatory disease of the lungs characterized by reversible airway obstruction. The tubes that carry air in the lungs are called bronchi and bronchioles. In asthma these tubes become narrowed because of abnormal muscular contraction of the tubes and from inflammation. The mucous lining of these tubes become irritated and secrete mucous and white blood cells into the airways making the narrowing worse. In some patients this narrowing occurs in response to an irritant such as cold air, dust, pollen, exercise, or tobacco smoke. The severity of symptoms vary greatly amongst patients ranging from a mild irritant to life threatening collapse.

Symptoms:
Shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, low oxygen, fainting, death.

Treatment:
Beta-agonist bronchodilators (Albuterol, levalbuterol, metaproterenol) are usually given by meter dose inhaler or nebulizer. Steroids are administered intravenously, orally or by inhalation. Parasypathetic agents such as Atrovent (ipratropium) are also used frequently. Combination medications containing a bronchodilator and steroid are also available. In severe cases positive airway pressure breathing device (BiPAP), heliox (mixture of helium and oxygen), and or mechanical ventilation (breathing tube place in trachea) may be needed.

Peak expiratory flow rate will be taken to measure the lungs function and effects of treatment. A chest X-ray will be taken if infection is suspected.

Other Specific Tests:
Peak expiratory flow rate, allergy testing