Antiasthma Drugs

Asthma Free Forever

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Asthma is a disease characterized by reversible airways obstruction and increased responsiveness of the airways to specific and nonspecific bronchocon-strictor stimuli. Indeed, the latter feature may be used in diagnosis of asthma (vide infra). Obstruction to the flow of air in asthma is the product of three factors: smooth muscle contraction, mucosal edema, and augmented mucus secretion. Pathological features, such as infiltration of the airway walls with inflammatory cells (e.g., eosinophils, neutrophils), and the efficacy of anti-inflammatory steroids in treating the disease have pointed to an important role of inflammation in the disease process.

Episodes of airway obstruction or bronchoconstriction may be induced in asthmatics by exposure to stimuli to which they are sensitized, such as inhalation of a specific pollen or house dust mite, or exposure to an occupational stimulus, e.g., red cedar dust [47]. Binding of antigen (e.g., pollen) to specific receptors (antibodies) on the surface of an inflammatory cell (e.g., mast cell) results in the elaboration of prestored mediators, such as histamine, and in the synthesis of newly formed mediators, such as arachidonic acid metabolites (e.g., prostaglandins and leukotrienes). Cellular sources of the various mediators are shown in Table 3. Cytokines and chemokines are proteins that participate in pulmonary immune and inflammatory responses. While important, these have not been subjected to discussion in this chapter because these fields are changing very

Table 3 Biologically Active Mediators Derived from Inflammatory Cells

Cell type

Mediator

Eosinophil

Leukotrienes

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Coping with Asthma

Coping with Asthma

If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.

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