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Asthma

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Asthma

Asthma (AZ-ma) is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood. In the United States, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma. About 7 million of these people are children.

Overview

To understand asthma, it helps to know how the airways work. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People who have asthma have inflamed airways. This makes them swollen and very sensitive. They tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances.

When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling... Read more about Asthma

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Standard for diagnosis of bronchial asthma in children aged 2 to 5 years: Executive summary of final report V06-02A, Version 1.0

The aim of this review was to describe procedures recommended to confirm a diagnosis of asthma in children aged 2 to 5 years. The following questions were investigated: ■ Do clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) include a uniform standard for the diagnosis “asthma” in the relevant age group? ■ Can the diagnostic procedure or the diagnostic algorithm identified as a standard be regarded as the reference standard?

Systematic guideline search and appraisal, as well as extraction of new and relevant recommendations, for the DMP “Asthma/COPD”: Executive summary of final report V06-04, Version 1.0

The aim of this research was to specify a possible need for revision of parts I (asthma) and II (COPD) of the existing DMP for asthma and COPD by means of a systematic search for evidence-based CPGs and a synthesis of the key recommendations generated.

Scientific evaluation of different investigational methods used in diagnosing bronchial asthma in children aged between 2 and < 5 years: Executive summary of final report V06-02C, Version 1.0

The aim of the present investigation was to scientifically evaluate the diagnostic accuracy and the patient-relevant benefit of procedures established in the German health care system for diagnosing bronchial asthma in children aged between 2 and < 5 years.

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Summaries for consumers

Comparing Asthma Controller Drugs

How do inhaled corticosteroids compare in treating asthma?

Asthma: Is it worth learning special breathing techniques?

Certain breathing techniques can have a calming effect in asthma and may also relieve the symptoms. Patient education could help people cope better with asthma attacks.

Asthma: What effect do sports and exercise have?

Regular physical activity can strengthen the lungs of people who have asthma and improve their overall level of fitness. Exercise and sports can also reduce asthma symptoms. It is important to keep asthma under control and adapt physical activities to your individual level of fitness.

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More about Asthma

Photo of a child

Also called: Bronchial asthma, Asthmatic

Other terms to know:
Bronchi, Lungs

Related articles:
How the Lungs Work

Keep up with systematic reviews on Asthma:

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