Pathophysiology of Asthma: Why It Matters and How It Is Used
Pathophysiology of asthma describes how asthma modifies normal functions of the body. It must be differentiated from pathogenesis, which describes how the disease progresses. When it comes to asthma, pathophysiology describes how asthma affects functions of the lungs. For instance, it describes how asthma leads to chronic inflammation of the airway passages or how it leads to bronchoconstriction.
Asthma is a clinical syndrome. It is usually characterized by the inflammation and structural modifications of the airway passages. Allergy and failure of immunological pathway related to IgE are not adequate to explain the history of the disease, thanks to its heterogeneity. So, why is understanding pathophysiology of asthma important?
Pathophysiology of Asthma: Why Does It Matter?
Understanding pathophysiology of asthma is important as it helps the doctor make an appropriate diagnosis and design a treatment plan. In addition, recent studies on the asthma and its pathophysiology have resulted in different phenotypes of the diseases. These allow for more innovative therapies based upon the specific characteristics of the patients. The following are some conditions that show why understanding asthma and its pathophysiology is important.
Asthma is a heterogeneous disease
Inflammatory conditions of the airways can be variable and heterogeneous. They may lead to recurrent symptoms and exacerbations. Asthma is a systemic disease. It may involve activations of different inflammatory cells within the lungs. They may include lymphocytes, mast cells, and other mononuclear cells. In untreated patients, eosinophil may lead to significant changes in the structure of the bronchi.
Asthma Involves Complex Mechanisms
The disease attracts attention since the primary abnormalities in the smooth muscle cell activity. Abnormal changes include bronchospastic tone, which is caused by inflammation. Then, asthma becomes more interested when chronic decline of lung function is found. When let untreated, this may result in permanent changes of the airway structure. Pathophysiology of asthma provides insights on this.
Changes in the airway structure are called airway remodeling, which is characterized by some conditions, such as:
- Thickening and hardening of the air passage walls
- Enlarged glands
- Proliferations of blood vessel networks
The problem is that structural changes to the lungs because of airway remodeling are irreversible. As a result, they may also worsen the symptoms.
The bronchial epithelium is located between the internal and external environments. It plays central role in determining the pathophysiologic manifestations of asthma. Moreover, most patients of asthma show modification of the bronchial sub-mucosa. This change is identifiable even at the beginning phase of the disease. Of course, these pathophysiologic mechanisms deserve further discussion.
Therapeutic Intervention May Lead to Structural Changes
In most diseases, the patients’ organs return to normal condition when the disease resolves. It does not seem to be true with asthma. Pathophysiology of asthma show that therapeutic interventions on the inflammation may lead to some effects, such as structural changes. These are confirmed by using endo-bronchial biopsy analysis.
Biopsy analysis shows that involvement of different pathways in the lung significantly affects pathophysiology of the disease. Therefore, non-invasive interventions to treat the airway inflammation are worthy considering. They include use of exhaled nitric oxide, sputum, and breath condensates.
How to Understanding Pathophysiology of Asthma
As mentioned above, the main use of information from pathophysiology of asthma is to help the doctor in making the diagnosis and recommending the right treatment. Actually, doctors usually make the recommendations on treatment and prevention by combining pathophysiology and pathogenesis of asthma.
Based on the information obtained from pathophysiology of the disease, the doctor can recommend the tools necessary to prevent the disease or at least to normalize the response. Moreover, information from pathogenesis of the diseases help the doctors in recommending ways to reverse, to cure, to avoid, and to prevent progression of the disease.
Despite aggressive treatment, asthma shows unique conditions, which may frustrate the patients and family. There are no means available to cure the disease. Fortunately, there are some strategies to control the symptoms and delay its progression. Furthermore, progression of the disease can be altered with the appropriate medication and lifestyle modifications. They include the following:
- Taking the medications regularly (as prescribed)
- Always have a rescue inhaler at hand
- Avoid things that may trigger the asthma attacks
- Make sure to get vaccination against pneumonia or flu
- Modify your lifestyle by doing physical exercise regularly and have balanced diet
- Visit your doctor regularly. You can have your respiratory health checked and ensure that you take the right medications.
Again, pathophysiology of asthma provides you with understanding on how the symptoms occur and worsen. Along with the doctor, you can take the necessary steps to protect your respiratory system healthy and integrated.
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