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Asthma 

Chapter:
Asthma
Author(s):

Alexandra Nanzer-Kelly

, Paul Cullinan

, and Andrew Menzies-Gow

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0410
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date: 05 March 2021

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchial airways that is characterized pathologically by a desquamative eosinophilic bronchitis and clinically by reversible airway narrowing and increased airway responsiveness to non-specific provocative stimuli. The condition is common, frequently disabling, and can cause death. In the Western world it now affects more than 10% of children and more than 5% of adults, and in England and Wales it is the cause of more than 100,000 hospital admissions and is the certified cause of death of 1,000–1,500 people each year. The risk of developing asthma is increased in atopic individuals, and in asthmatics natural allergen exposure induces asthma and airway hyper-responsiveness. Viral infections, most commonly with rhinoviruses, cause 80–85% of exacerbations of asthma in children and 50–75% in adults.

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