Asthma Pathophysiology Made Easy

First, let’s look at some definitions. Pathophysiology refers to the study of what causes the disruption of ordinary physiological processes so that they become abnormal.

Asthma is a chronic medical condition caused by inflammation of the lungs. In this illness, we see bronchospasms due to a heightened reaction to stimuli. This reaction is the pathophysiological response that the lungs undertake when an allergen is present.

The pathophysiological response results in symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

asthma pathophysiologyMyths About Asthma

There are two things to bear in mind when we talk about asthma:

  1. Asthma is not “all in the mind” and is not something that a sufferer can choose to get over. It is a serious disease with no known cure.
  2. You cannot catch asthma.
  3. Asthma doesn’t present the same for every person.
  4. Steroids used in asthma medication are not the same as anabolic steroids used in bodybuilding.
  5. There are no home remedies for an asthma attack and no clear evidence that there is any natural treatment for asthma.

Types of Asthma

Intrinsic and extrinsic asthma are the two categories of asthma. An extrinsic asthma sufferer will suffer from allergic reactions and immune responses to allergens. These sufferers are classed as atopic with a problem with IgE responses.

Intrinsic asthmatics on the other hand have a non-allergic response to stress or to infections.

Extrinsic Asthma

Extrinsic asthma is a much more common type of asthma and is caused by an immune response. In this type of asthma, the person’s lungs suffer from inflammations and the bronchial tubes are extremely sensitive to the presence of allergens.

Airway inflammation triggers mast cells, eosinophils, and macrophages to release in the airway. Together they encourage more mucous to be secreted causing further obstruction of the airway.

Therefore the immune response to allergens results in a two-step process:

  1. First, the lung inflammation causes wheezing and shortness of breath
  2. Then the bodies mucous production increases which causes coughing in an attempt to get rid of the mucous

In the long-term damage to the epithelium can occur.

Intrinsic Asthma

Also known as non-allergic asthma, this is triggered by smoke, cold air, and even stress. It is important for the person who suffers from this type of asthma to know their own triggers in order to take preventative measures against an asthma attack.

We noted earlier than asthma is not a psychological disease, but stress can make things worse by increasing the body’s response to asthma triggers.

Asthma Treatments

Treatment of asthma depends on the type of asthma that occurs. Mainly, corticosteroid pills and inhalers are used but they come with rare side effects such as liver and kidney problems. The risks and side effects can be weighed up against the clear benefits of asthma medication.

It is important to see a medical professional to decide on the correct treatment option for you as there is no proven home remedy for preventing or treating asthma attacks.

Further information:

American Academy of allergy, asthma, and immunology –

Mayo Clinic –

National heart, lung and blood institute –

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