Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by bronchoconstriction that is reversible, airway inflammation resulting from edema in the lining of the bronchial tubes, and increased airway responsiveness to a variety of stimuli. Symptoms usually occur during the first five years of life in 65 percent of the patients. A key feature of the disease is a hyper-responsiveness of the airways to various triggering stimuli, which causes the airways to react to irritation with severe bronchospasm and inflammation, resulting in symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, and tachycardia. Researchers are finding that gene mutation may increase asthma risk. They are also finding that a lack of H. pylori in children increases their risk of developing asthma.
Anaphylaxis is an acute multi-system life-threatening hypersensitive reaction that can constrict airways in the lungs, severely lower blood pressure, and cause suffocation by the swelling of the tongue or throat. Epinephrine (adrenaline) is the primary treatment for anaphylaxis. It improves airway patency, improves blood pressure, and may be life-saving.
A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, sought to estimate the occurrence of anaphylaxis from all causes with a special focus on asthma. Researchers used data from the Health Improvement Network database, which provided information on individuals 10 to 79 years old who had been enrolled for at least 1 year with a general practitioner in the United Kingdom and had at least 1 health contact in the year before entering the study. The results revealed that the average number of new episodes of anaphylaxis was approximately 50 per 100,000 patients with asthma each year. A similar group of individuals free of asthma had an incidence of 21 cases per year. The incidence rate of anaphylaxis was higher in women than men. It appears that patients with asthma have a greater risk of anaphylaxis than those without asthma. It was also determined that those with severe asthma are at greater risk than those with non-severe asthma. Furthermore, women are at an increased risk of anaphylaxis compared to men, especially those with severe asthma.1
1 Gonzalez-Perez A, Aponte Z, Vidaurre CF, et al. Anaphylaxis epidemiology in patients with and without asthma: A United Kingdom database review. J Allergy Clin Immunol. May2010;125(5).