Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic


  • Michele Palella
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_56

Once thought to be an acute, sporadic illness, asthma is now understood to be a chronic, inflammatory lung process which is becoming increasingly common across the globe. Generally the diagnosis is made when the patient, usually a child, presents to the health care provider with wheeze, cough, and/or breathlessness which is not accompanied by an acute illness. The diagnosis is not made, however, on the first presentation, but at the second or third, with the patient having normal respiration at other points in time, and the chronic nature of the ailment can be established.

The chronic inflammation causes the interior wall of the airways to become swollen, reddened, with increased mucus production. This causes the lumen of the airway to narrow, and the wall itself becomes more irritable and responds easily to irritants. This response takes the form of bronchoconstriction (tightening of the muscles which circle the smallest airway bronchioles). While the bronchoconstriction is reversible...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Brugge, D., Woodin, M., Schuch, T., Salas, F., Bennett, A., & Osgood, N.-D. (2008). Community-level data suggest that asthma prevalence varies between U.S. and foreign-born black subpopulations. The Journal of Asthma, 45(9), 785–789.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Castro-Rodriguez, J. A., Holberg, C. J., Wright, A. L., & Martinez, F. D. (2000). A clinical index to define risk of asthma in young children with recurrent wheezing. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 162(4 Pt 1), 1403–1406. 2000 Oct.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Guilbert, T. W., Morgan, W. J., Zeiger, R. S., Bacharier, L. B., Boehmer, S. J., Krawiec, M., Larsen, G., Lemanske, R. F., Liu, A., Mauger, D. T., Sorkness, C., Szefler, S. J., Strunk, R. C., Taussig, L. M., & Martinez, F. D. (2004). Atopic characteristics of children with recurrent wheezing at high risk for the development of childhood asthma.[see comment]. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 114(6), 1282–1287. 2004 Dec.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Mantzouranis, E. (2008). Taking your child’s breath away – the extension of asthma’s global reach. NEJM 2008, 358, 1211–1213.Google Scholar
  5. Martinez, F. D., Wright, A. L., Taussig, L. M., Holberg, C. J., Halonen, M., & Morgan, W. J. (1995). Asthma and wheezing in the first six years of life. The Group Health Medical Associates.[see comment]. The New England Journal of Medicine, 332(3), 133–138. 1995 Jan 19.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Suggested Resources

  1. GINA: The Global Initiative for Asthma. Global strategy for asthma prevention and management in children 5 years and younger. www.ginasthma.org
  2. ISAAC Steering Committee. http://isaac.auckland.ac.nz/index.html

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele Palella
    • 1
  1. 1.Floating Hospital for ChildrenTufts Medical CenterBostonUSA