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Asthma is a common inflammatory disease affecting the airways that leads to shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. Symptoms range from mild to severe but are generally manageable with appropriate treatment.

When asthmatics come into contact with something that irritates their lungs, three main changes occur that prevent air from moving easily through the airways. The bands of muscle surrounding the airways tighten and narrow the airway (bronchospasm), the lining of the airways inflame, and the cells that line the airways produce more mucus. This bronchospasm, inflammation, and mucus production lead to wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing.

An asthma “attack” refers to when the onset of symptoms is severe. In rare cases, an asthma attack can be life threatening and hospitalization may be required to provide emergency treatment.
The exact cause of asthma is not yet clear, but examples of factors that are known to trigger the condition include allergens such as house dust mites or pollen, cigarette smoke, exercise, chest infections, and exposure to cold air.

Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled. One of the most important parts of asthma control is identifying asthma triggers so they can be avoided wherever possible. Medications that may be used include anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and mucus production and bronchodilators to relax the muscles that tighten and narrow the airways.
Childhood asthma may increase obesity risk, study finds

Childhood asthma may increase obesity risk, study finds

Children with asthma may be more likely to become obese later in childhood or in adolescence, according to new research published online ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. [More]
Antidepressant use during pregnancy could increase risk of birth defects in baby, study reveals

Antidepressant use during pregnancy could increase risk of birth defects in baby, study reveals

A new Université de Montréal study in the British Medical Journal reveals that antidepressants prescribed to pregnant women could increase the chance of having a baby with birth defects. [More]
Improving fungal disease diagnostics could help battle against antimicrobial resistance

Improving fungal disease diagnostics could help battle against antimicrobial resistance

Ignorance of fungal disease and lack of diagnostics across the world is causing doctors to unknowingly overprescribe antibiotics a new report warns. [More]
New Apple ResearchKit app from Penn Medicine focuses on sarcoidosis patients

New Apple ResearchKit app from Penn Medicine focuses on sarcoidosis patients

Penn Medicine today launched its first Apple ResearchKit app, focused on patients with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory condition that can affect the lungs, skin, eyes, heart, brain, and other organs. [More]
Cockroach bait may be easier, cheaper way to manage key asthma trigger in children

Cockroach bait may be easier, cheaper way to manage key asthma trigger in children

It may be easier and cheaper for parents to manage a key asthma trigger in children -- exposure to cockroaches -- than previously thought, according to a new Tulane University study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. [More]
Better fungal disease diagnostics could be critical to fight against antimicrobial resistance

Better fungal disease diagnostics could be critical to fight against antimicrobial resistance

Poor diagnosis worldwide of fungal disease causes doctors to overprescribe antibiotics, increasing harmful resistance to antimicrobial drugs, according to a paper published today in Emerging Infectious Diseases. [More]
Important vaccines that should not be missed by adults, elders and pregnant women

Important vaccines that should not be missed by adults, elders and pregnant women

Vaccines are an important part of routine healthcare for adults, seniors and women who are pregnant. [More]
Researchers develop new imaging and catheterization technique to treat adults with lymphatic plastic bronchitis

Researchers develop new imaging and catheterization technique to treat adults with lymphatic plastic bronchitis

Researchers who developed a safe and effective procedure to remove thick clogs in children's airways are now reporting similar success in adult patients. In this rare condition, called plastic bronchitis, patients develop thick, caulk-like casts that form in the branching paths of their airways. [More]
Air pollution exposure and sedentary lifestyle pose serious health threats to children in China

Air pollution exposure and sedentary lifestyle pose serious health threats to children in China

Children and adolescents in mainland China are facing two serious and conflicting public health threats: ongoing exposure to air pollution and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle with little regular physical activity outside school. [More]
Mothers' use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy may be linked to asthma in children

Mothers' use of acid-suppressing medication during pregnancy may be linked to asthma in children

Children born to mothers who take heartburn medication during pregnancy may have a greater risk of developing asthma, research suggests. [More]
Scientists develop 3-D organoid to unravel immune response during infection

Scientists develop 3-D organoid to unravel immune response during infection

What if you could design an adaptable, biomaterials-based model of an organ to track its immune response to any number of maladies, including cancer, transplant rejection and the Zika virus? The lab of Ankur Singh, assistant professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has asked - and begun to answer - that very question. [More]
Unique type of airway inflammation could make African Americans less responsive to asthma treatment

Unique type of airway inflammation could make African Americans less responsive to asthma treatment

African Americans may be less responsive to asthma treatment and more likely to die from the condition, in part, because they have a unique type of airway inflammation, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. [More]
Experts issue clinical guidelines to help early introduction of peanut-containing foods to infants

Experts issue clinical guidelines to help early introduction of peanut-containing foods to infants

An expert panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, issued clinical guidelines today to aid health care providers in early introduction of peanut-containing foods to infants to prevent the development of peanut allergy. [More]
Genetic influence on immune system appears to be higher than previously thought

Genetic influence on immune system appears to be higher than previously thought

Nearly three quarters of immune traits are influenced by genes, new research from King's College London reveals. [More]
Indoor smoking bans reduce asthma-related ER visits among children

Indoor smoking bans reduce asthma-related ER visits among children

Emergency rooms in communities with indoor smoking bans reported a 17 percent decrease in the number of children needing care for asthma attacks, according to new research from the University of Chicago Medicine. [More]
Taking omega-3 supplements during pregnancy can reduce risk of childhood asthma by one third

Taking omega-3 supplements during pregnancy can reduce risk of childhood asthma by one third

Taking certain omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy can reduce the risk of childhood asthma by almost one third, according to a new study from the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) and the University of Waterloo. [More]
Arthritis patients more likely to be health detail oriented than health detail avoidant, shows study

Arthritis patients more likely to be health detail oriented than health detail avoidant, shows study

Arthritis patients were more likely to be high monitors (health detail oriented) than high blunters (health detail avoidant) in a study led by the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy. [More]
Article reports increase in health care spending on children

Article reports increase in health care spending on children

Health care spending on children grew 56 percent between 1996 and 2013, with the most money spent in 2013 on inpatient well-newborn care, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and well-dental care, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics. [More]
Novel mathematical model could help provide causes of complex multifactorial diseases

Novel mathematical model could help provide causes of complex multifactorial diseases

Patients with complex diseases have a higher risk of developing another. Multi-morbidity represents a huge problem in everyday clinical practice, because it makes it more difficult to provide successful treatment. [More]
Scientists pinpoint specific molecular events that may cause allergic reactions to air pollution

Scientists pinpoint specific molecular events that may cause allergic reactions to air pollution

Scientists at the Immunology Frontier Research Center at Osaka University, Japan have pinpointed a specific molecular events that could explain allergic reactions to air pollution. [More]
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