Definition of Asthma

Definition of Asthma

Why do we define asthma?

We define asthma to identify the disease correctly and to differentiate it from other diseases. To fulfill this goal, definition of asthma has been changing over last 40 years. The clinician, physiologist, immunologist, pathologist or epidemiologist - all have different perspective of asthma.

In the year 1997, the following working definition has been formulated by Expert Panel-2 of National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, USA.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways:

in which many cells & cellular elements play a role: in particular, mast cells, eosinophils, T lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophil & epithelial cells.

This definition consists of five components :

  1. Nature of disease
  2. Cardinal features
  3. Reversible obstruction in pulmonary function testing
  4. Hyper responsiveness to multiple stimuli
  5. Cause of persistent asthma

This definition is to some extent a complete definition. The critical role of inflammation in asthma is so important that it is described in the first component of the definition.

We can summaries this definition in a simple form:

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder causing hyper responsiveness of airways to certain stimuli resulting in recurrent variable airflow limitation, at least partly reversible, presenting as wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing.

See Also:

Etiology of Asthma

Classification of Asthma

Diagnosis of Asthma

Investigation of Asthma

Medicines of Asthma

Further Reading:

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