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Asthma

Bronchial asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. With over 300mio people affected worldwide it is a common disease and incidence is increasing. The term originates form Greek meaning “wheeze”. Patients with asthma have a permanent (chronic) inflammation in their airways, which is associated with an increased sensitivity of the bronchi towards different stimuli. This so-called airway hyperresponsiveness and the chronic inflammation lead to narrowing of the bronchi (=airway obstruction) which in turn causes the typical symptoms of asthma. These symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or even only cough. A characteristic feature of asthma is, that symptoms occur in attacks, then reverse spontaneously or with treatment and reoccur as the next attack.

The disease often begins during childhood and is the most common chronic disease in children. We can distinguish between allergic asthma that frequently starts in childhood and is provoked by airborne allergens like pollen or house-dust mite, and non-allergic asthma which often does not start until adulthood.

Asthmatic patients experience periods with intense symptoms but also periods with few, if any, symptoms.

Thanks to modern drugs, the disease can be well-controlled in most patients, so that attacks and symptoms occur only occasionally. However, there is no therapy that can cure asthma. The development of new therapies and preventive measures is urgently needed in order to decrease the disease burden and facilitate the live of the patients.

(Source: adapted from www.lungeninformationsdienst.de)

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