Asthma is a disease of the airways characterized by a feeling of dyspnea with the decreased ability or disability to breath OUT air, a feeling of pressure on the chest and often accompanied by coughing.
This is due to the contraction of the smooth muscles in the wall of the airways, more specific in the bronchi.
The mucosa, which covers the inner wall of the airways gets swollen and produces more mucus.
A narrowing of the airways occurs, resulting in complaints like coughing, a wheezing breath and mostly a dyspnea.
The narrowing of the airways is still reversible, so the asthma patient doesn’t always have complaints and they can experience periods of perfectly normal breathing.
Asthma can be provoked by allergic and non-allergic stimuli.
However, not all asthma patients are sensitive to allergens such as pollen, dust mite, pets, …
Nearly all asthma patients react to some non-allergic, inciting substances like fog, cold air, tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes, ..
Also physical efforts and stress can elicit complaints.
In fact, there are thousands of possible evocating substances and combinations. It is impossible to protect yourself against all these particles or to avoid them: a well-functioning immune system takes care of this automatically.
Asthma is seen in all age categories. In Western industrialized countries the disease affects at an average of 10% of the population. Severe cases can be lethal, although this rarely occurs (46 cases per year in Belgium, 78 per year in The Netherlands).