What happens during an episode of Asthma

asthmaAsthma occurs when the airflow moving in and out of the lungs are blocked by muscle squeezing, swelling, and excess mucus. In response to a trigger, an asthmatic’s airways become narrowed and inflamed, causing blocking of the airways that result in wheezing and/or coughing symptoms. Air becomes trapped in the air sacs, not allowing for the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This trapped air leads to a low oxygen level in the body, thus, triggering an asthma attack. During an asthma attack, the mucus-producing cells within the airway increase their output, causing excess mucus that blocks the airway. Parts of the airway become entirely blocked with the combination of airway narrowing, mucus plugging, and airway inflammation. These attacks vary in length. A single episode can be over in minutes, or continue for hours or even days. In between asthma episodes the patient may be totally symptom free. Other patients may have slight symptoms such as chest tightness or a hacking cough.

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