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What is Asthma

What is asthma? When you get a diagnosis of asthma for yourself or your child, you may be wondering information about asthma. Or may be you haven't been diagnosed yet and you're wondering if your symptoms might be asthma. So let discuss the asthma facts and information you need to understand what asthma is all about.

There are hundreds of small and big tubes in the lungs which carry the breath inside along with the inhaled air. Oxygen enters the body through these tubes and carbon dioxide comes out of the body through them. The bigger tubes are bronchi and the smaller ones are bronchioles. These bronchioles and bronchi are surrounded by thin muscles which make them open and close during the process of respiration. At the ends of these bronchioles, there are millions of alveoli which are tiny balloon like sacs spreading out in the periphery of the lungs. These alveoli have very thin walls and they allow oxygen from the freshly inhaled air to pass into the blood. Similarly, at the same time the waste product of the body, namely carbon dioxide, comes out of the blood stream through these sacs which are breathed out.

During an attack of asthma, there is a contraction of these tubes when the patient wants to breathe out the polluted air from the body. Because of this contraction or spasm, the patient finds it very difficult to breath. A sleeping position makes the condition worse and the patient spends night after sitting up in bed. When the air passes out through these contracted or spasmed tubes, there is a characteristic wheezing sound. This condition becomes worse when large amounts of mucus, produced in the tubes, obstruct the passage of air.

Like all other muscles in the body, the opening and closing of the muscles surrounding these tubes are controlled by two groups of nerves called sympathetic and para-sympathetic. It is the sympathetic nerve which helps in the opening of the bronchi and bronchioles and the para-sympathetic nerve that causes their contraction. The action of the para-sympathetic nerve gets support from another chemical substance called histamine. This histamine causes inflammation of the internal lining membrane of the bronchial tubes thereby causing obstruction in the passage of air. The activities of the para-sympathetic nerve and histamine get additional support from infections, smoke, dust, air pollution, dampness and cold weather.

Along with the changes in the lungs, the patient may also suffer from congestion and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose, sinusitis, tonsillitis and pharyngitis. In fact, in classical cases of asthma, the ailment starts from the nose. The patients suffer from cold, a few bouts of sneezing, watering from the nose and eyes and heaviness of the head. They may get headaches, sore throat and even tonsillitis. This reaction in the mucus membrane of the respiratory tract spread gradually after a few days to the bronchioles. To start with, there may be bouts of cough with or without expectoration. Because of the treatment or even otherwise, the ailment from the nose and throat may disappear, but will continue to affect the tubes of the air passage. A few bouts of this attack may be ignored by the patients as ordinary bronchitis. But subsequently, this causes breathing problems thereby manifesting clear signs and symptoms of asthma.

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bullet Herbal Remedies for Asthma | List of Herbs for Asthma
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