Yoram Yasur Blume: Symptoms and treatment of asthmatic bronchitis
Asthmatic bronchitis is a respiratory disease that is characterized by inflammation of the airways, the bronchi. Viral respiratory infections, allergens and weather changes are some factors that can trigger this ailment. Most cases recover with medical treatment.
Every time you breathe, air enters through the nose and mouth, through the throat and through the bronchial tubes. These must be open for air to reach the lungs, where oxygen passes to the blood to be transported to the tissues. If the airways are inflamed, the air has more difficulty reaching the lungs. Frequently, a cough or feeling of weight appears in the chest.
Bronchitis and asthma, respiratory diseases
Yoram Yasur Blume: Bronchitis and asthma are two inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the walls of the respiratory tract caused by viral or bacterial infections or by exposure to environmental irritants. Asthma is an inflammatory condition that causes narrowing of the muscles that surround the airways. Causes recurrent episodes of shortness of breath (dyspnea), “whistling” in the chest (wheezing) and feeling of oppression.
Yoram Yasur Blume: Bronchial asthma or asthmatic bronchitis is an occasional and reversible obstruction of these airways that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent obstruction. Bronchial tamponade is produced by bronchial hyperreactivity, that is, by an exaggerated narrowing of the airways before a given stimulus.
What are the risk factors and the triggers?
Yoram Yasur Blume: Bronchial hyperresponsiveness is produced by a high sensitivity of the airways to stimuli that, under normal conditions, are harmless. These are risk factors and triggers such as:
Risk factors (agents related to the onset of the disease):
- Nutritional factors
- Tobacco and pollution
Triggering factors (acting on the asthmatic patient causing symptoms):
- Viral respiratory infections
- Irritants as aerosols
- Strong emotions or intense physical exercise
- Weather changes
- Food and environmental allergens
We distinguish two types of bronchial asthma:
- Allergic (or extrinsic): caused by the inhalation of certain allergens in genetically susceptible people. The most common are pollen from grasses, house dust mites, animal epithelia and fungal spores, which provoke a hypersensitivity reaction, mediated by Immunoglobulin E (IgE).
- Non-allergic (or intrinsic): usually occurs in people over 35 years, who lack a history and whose tests for hypersensitivity to allergens are negative.
Symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis
The most frequent symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis are usually:
- Wheezing: these are the well-known “whistles” in the chest when we breathe.
- Cough: episodes of cough are more persistent during the early morning.
- Dyspnea: shortness of breath and choking sensation when we breathe.
These symptoms usually appear during the night and the first hours of the morning, but they can also appear sporadically, at any time of the day. Although in some cases they can revert spontaneously, most discomfort disappears with medical treatment.
Tests for bronchial asthma
The doctor will have to perform different tests, depending on the clinical history and physical examination, in order to correct the diagnosis:
- Spirometry: test that allows lung function measurement. It consists of blowing hard through a tube to see how much air comes out of the chest and at what speed. Detect if there is obstructive deficit.
- Radiological tests: X-rays of the chest and paranasal sinuses are usually done.
- Measurement of peak flow: although it has no diagnostic value, it is useful for the patient to know the degree of bronchial obstruction and, if necessary, to use a bronchodilator.
- Allergy tests: can be done through a skin test or a blood test. They allow to identify the allergy to dust, mold, pollen, or pets. In the case that allergy triggers are identified, the doctor may recommend immunotherapy with allergens.
What is the treatment?
The treatment of asthma is usually pharmacological with bronchodilators and anti-inflammatories (corticosteroids). In the case of the allergic, specific immunotherapy is added (allergy shots). Long-acting bronchodilators are used in the morning and at night every day, with or without symptoms. Short-acting bronchodilators, on the other hand, are used in case of symptoms such as choking or coughing.
Depending on the response to treatment, the doctor will adjust the doses if necessary. It is important to closely monitor patients for disease control, as the symptoms may change over time.