Bronchial asthma is a chronic lung disorder resulting from the spasmodic contraction of the bronchial muscles. It is most often referred to simply as “asthma.”
Triggered by hyperactivity in the lungs, bronchial asthma is characterized by recurring bouts of obstructed airways, resulting in shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and feelings of tightness in the chest.
The most recognized aspect of bronchial asthma is the asthma attack. During an attack, muscles surrounding the airways tighten and the lining of the passages swell, reducing the amount of air that can pass through. This often leads to a collection of asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. An attack can last only a few minutes or as long as a few days, but it is often relieved with help from medication.
Asthma is treated often with bronchial inhalers—including short-term “rescue” inhalers for asthma attacks. Asthma patients are often sensitive to dust, pet dander, mold, and other common irritants. Asthma symptoms can be triggered by exercise, stress, changes in the weather, and respiratory infections.
About 300 million people worldwide suffer from bronchial asthma. Although prognosis is good with treatment, about 4,000 people in the United States die each year due to bronchial asthma-related complications.