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                Asthma attack

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Up | Anatomy lungs | Why asthma occurs | Asthma symptoms | Triggers of asthma | Asthma attack | Asthma diagnosis | Goals asthma therapy | Signs worsening asthma | Management asthma | Asthma children

What happens during an acute asthma attack

 

                                                      

         Lungs before an asthma attack                           Lungs during an asthma attack

                                Airways fully opened                                                       Airways constricted due to bronchial wall muscle spasms

 

 

                          Illustration showing anormal airway and an airway in a person with asthma.

 

 

                                                                                    

              Normal airway                                         Narrowed airway in asthma attack

  • Lumen fully opened                                                          Lumen diameter decreased

  • Non constricted walls of airways                                       Constricted walls of airways

  • Non inflamed walls of airways                                          Inflamed, swollen walls of airways

  • Lumen not blocked with mucus                                        Lumen  blocked with mucus

 

                                                                                                   

       Healthy bronchial system                                  Bronchial system that is inflamed & clogged by mucus 

 

During an asthma attack the following changes occur in airways of lungs.

  • Airways get constricted (narrower) due to tightening (spasms) of muscles  of airways.

  • Inflammation and swelling of the walls of airways occur, further narrowing the constricted airways.

  • Clogging of airways with sticky mucus leading to near total occlusion .

 

Illustration of normal airways

Illustration of inflamed airways

Illustration of airways with tightened muscles

In people without asthma, the muscles around the airways are relaxed, allowing the airways to stay open. There is no swelling or mucus inside the airways.

In people with asthma, the inside of the airways can get red, swollen, and filled with mucus.

In people with asthma, the muscles around the airways can spasm and squeeze tighter. This leaves less room for air to pass through

 

 

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The current view of asthma regards it as a complex inflammatory condition, involving many inflammatory cells and a wide variety of chemical mediators. These mediators act on cells of airways leading to smooth muscle contraction, mucus hyper-secretion, and inflammation and swelling of lining of walls of airways.

 

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