Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Do Aerosols Cause Asthma?

Asthma can be triggered by many irritants including physiological factors (such as viral infections and upper respiratory infections), environmental factors (such as pollen, dust, mold, mildew), and non-environmental factors (such as exercise, stress, anxiety). In some patients, stress and heavy laughter can induce asthma, while in others allergens are the culprit. Among the list of allergens are aerosols, which are solid and liquid particles in a gas. Aerosols range in products; but examples include house cleaners, dust, pollen, and smoke.

How do Aerosols Effect the Lungs?

asthma article aerosol inhalerWhen aerosols are breathed in and enter the lungs they generate an immune response within the bronchi and bronchioles. This releases a number of chemicals including leukotrienes and histamines (2012; Cloe, 2007). These chemicals are responsible for inflammation of the lungs, producing excess amounts of mucus, and mediating more immunity cells to the area to regenerate the reaction. Figure depicts how asthma triggers cause inflammation in the airways.

When this occurs, patients with asthma experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath (American Academy of Asthma Allergens Immunology (AAAI), 2012). Aerosols are a common cause of asthma because they are found in everyday life. Although they cannot be removed from the environment, common triggers such as smoking and house cleaners should be avoided to reduce and prevent asthma attacks.

Allergy Testing For Asthma
At least 60% of patients with asthma have symptoms induced by allergies. Common allergens include pet dander, mold, mildew, and pollen. Several tests exist for detecting allergens including tests that look for immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated responses. IgE is the chemical that mediates immunity cells, which are responsible for releasing histamines and leukotrienes in response to irritants that enter the airways in the lungs. Other allergy tests include blood tests and skin tests such as skin prick tests, intradermal tests, and patch tests (West Virginia Asthma Education and Prevention Program, 2006). Testing for allergens in patients with asthma is extremely beneficial for the patient to understand what triggers to avoid in order to manage asthma attacks. The first step to treating asthma is to recognize the facts that trigger symptoms. Avoiding these factors will only help the patient and with proper medication symptoms can vastly improve over time.

References
Cloe, A. (2007, October 27). The role of leukotrienes in asthma. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/22472-role-leukotrienes-asthma/
American Academy of Asthma Allergens Immunology (AAAI). (2012). Asthma. Retrieved from http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma.aspx
West Virginia Asthma Education and Prevention Program. (2006). Asthma triggers. Retrieved from http://www.wvasthma.org/Asthma101/AsthmaTriggers/tabid/207/Default.aspx
Figures
Maricopa County Asthma Coalition. (Artist). (2007). Triggers for asthma. [Web Graphic]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.letusbreathe.com/triggers.htm