asthma

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Related to asthmas: asthmatic, Allergic Asthma

asthma

(ăz`mə, ăs`–), chronic inflammatory respiratory disease characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. A cough producing sticky mucus is symptomatic. The symptoms often appear to be caused by the body's reaction to a trigger such as an allergen (commonly pollen, house dust, animal dander: see allergyallergy,
hypersensitive reaction of the body tissues of certain individuals to certain substances that, in similar amounts and circumstances, are innocuous to other persons. Allergens, or allergy-causing substances, can be airborne substances (e.g.
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), certain drugs, an irritant (such as cigarette smoke or workplace chemicals), exercise, or emotional stress. These triggers can cause the asthmatic's lungslungs,
elastic organs used for breathing in vertebrate animals, excluding most fish, which use gills, and a few amphibian species that respire through the skin. The word is sometimes applied to the respiratory apparatus of lower animals.
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 to release chemicals that create inflammation of the bronchial lining, constriction, and bronchial spasms. If the effect on the bronchi becomes severe enough to impede exhalation, carbon dioxide can build up in the lungs and lead to unconsciousness and death. Following a steady 30-year decline, asthma deaths in the United States, especially among poor, inner-city blacks and among the elderly, began to rise from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. At the same time, the incidence of asthma also increased, both nationally and worldwide.

There is no cure for asthma. Although the disease may go through a period of quiescence, it appears that childhood asthmatics do not outgrow the disease as previously believed. Treatment includes inhaled or oral steroids or bronchodilators (albuterol, theophylline), breathing exercises, and, if possible, the identification and avoidance of triggers.

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asthma

[′az·mə]
(medicine)
A pulmonary disease marked by labored breathing, wheezing, and coughing; cause may be emotional stress, chemical irritation, or exposure to an allergen.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

asthma

a respiratory disorder, often of allergic origin, characterized by difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and a sense of constriction in the chest
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
Asthma was such a funny thing (he insisted) that it would not worry him a bit to discover that I had come to take the presents instead of to take care of them!
He suffered much from asthma, and in 1718 gave up his Government post.
Sleary, who was troubled with asthma, and whose breath came far too thick and heavy for the letter s, 'Your thervant!
In it was a good-natured-looking old woman with a dropsy, or an asthma, or perhaps both.
'Oh yes, sir, he is at home,' said Minnie; 'the weather don't suit his asthma out of doors.
He was a white-bearded sea-captain, too old for service, who had learned that the only way to live on comfortable terms with his asthma was on Hikueru.