Bronchial asthma

Good experience with drug-based therapy

You can quickly start to panic if you suddenly become breathless. The reason is often a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory tract, bronchial asthma. Bronchial hypersensitivity causes a narrowing of the airways, which can lead to a coughing fit and shortness of breath. It is important to recognise the disease at an early stage and to provide consistent treatment for it on a long-term basis. Particularly at the beginning, it usually responds very well to the targeted administration of medication.

Our respiratory specialists at Schoen Clinic have many years of experience in treating bronchial asthma. They have already been highlighted as asthma experts in the Focus consultant list for years. With the help of medication and special breathing techniques, we do all we can to monitor and control your illness.

Causes & symptoms

Causes: How bronchial asthma develops

A distinction is now made between many forms of asthma. Two forms of bronchial asthma are fundamentally important: 
  • Allergic (extrinsic) asthma: It often occurs in the family and can appear as early as in childhood. The risk is increased if smoking takes place in the parents’ house or if a child has excessive contact with allergens, for example with pets.
  • Non-allergic (intrinsic) asthma: It usually occurs only in the third and fourth decade of life. The starting point is usually a severe respiratory infection. At some point, a persistent cough turns into an initial attack of shortness of breath. This form of asthma tends to be more difficult to treat than the allergic asthma.

The most common other form is exercise-induced asthma. It is typical that shortness of breath does not occur during, but only after the end of a brief period of physical exertion. Another form is nocturnal asthma: If asthma is not treated comprehensively, it can also occur at night. Special forms also include analgesic asthma and asthma due to alcohol intolerance: In this case, pain killers such as aspirin or consuming alcohol can cause shortness of breath in sensitive people.

Asthma: Symptoms of the disorder

In the case of bronchial asthma, attacks of shortness of breath occur relatively quickly, often preceded by inhalation of irritating substances or allergens. Some sufferers also only suffer from a dry irritable cough. In the event of severe shortness of breath, the shortness of breath may be accompanied by restlessness and anxiety through to panic.

Some asthma symptoms are signs that the disease may be worsening. With close observation, these can often be recognised at an early stage. The first signs may be:
  • General cold symptoms 
  • Increasing cough with yellow sputum 
  • Increased demand for sprays that expand the respiratory tract with shorter and reduced efficacy 
  • Increased shortness of breath, especially during exertion

Diagnostics

Diagnosis: How we diagnose bronchial asthma

The most important diagnostic measure is the conversation with the patient. This is followed by instrument-based diagnostics to confirm the diagnosis. With the lung function test (spirometry), we measure the amount of inhaled and exhaled air. In the event of asthma, the air cannot be completely exhaled after normal inhalation. This leads to the typical whistling sound during exhalation.

The danger of bronchial asthma lies not only in the extent of the lung function restriction, but in the variety of symptoms. A patient with limited lung function but good therapeutic effects and a stable progression is considered to be controlled. However, an asthmatic who intermittently has completely normal lung function but tends to repeatedly deteriorate severely can be considered uncontrolled. 

Special equipment and laboratory diagnostics

In addition to the lung function test, a special test can be used to measure resistance in the airways and the amount of air trapped in the chest. This residual amount can be significantly increased in asthmatics, especially in an attack of shortness of breath, and can cause a feeling of over-inflation.

What are known as asthma inflammatory cells can be detected in the blood. In allergic patients, there are elevated IgE values and specific antibodies against the allergens.