Smoking and Asthma – Respiratory System Example

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"Smoking and Asthma" is a great example of a paper on the respiratory system. Asthma has been defined disease whereby the airways swell and result in a narrowing of the airways. The narrowing of the airway is secondary to inflammation. There is extra production of mucus resulting in difficulty in breathing (Mayo Clinic 2012). In Scotland, asthma has a prevalence of 15% in children and 5% for adults (Capwell 1993). In South Wales, airway obstruction and asthma symptoms have increased (Capwell 1993). Risk Factors There exist a number of factors thought to increase the chances of individuals contracting asthma.

These risk factors include but are not limited to Having a close blood relative like a parent or sibling who has asthma. There are certain familial factors that are transmitted to close family members like parents and siblings and are responsible for triggering asthma (Dold, 1992). Being overweight: a study has revealed that overweight children were two times likely to develop asthma by age 8 and that by losing weight earlier on, they may just prevent the likelihood of developing asthma. Hormone leptin found in children with high body fat is associated with causing exaggerated inflammatory reactions (Warner, 2011). Smoking: Smoke in some people causes irritation and inflammation resulting in the triggering of symptoms of asthma.

Smoke from tobacco has been implicated as the world’ s biggest single contributor to asthma. There is scientific evidence demonstrating that parent s who smoke increase the likelihood of their children developing asthma (Vann, 2011). Allergic conditions like allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis: are inflammatory conditions and predispose to asthma. Their presence triggers symptoms of asthma. There exist some environmental factors and familial factors that trigger this inflammatory reaction which in turn predisposes to asthma (Dold, 1992). A mother who smokes while pregnant predisposes the child to asthma: This has been proven by data that demonstrates the link between smoking pregnant mothers and the increased likelihood of the child developing asthma once born (Vann, 2011). Being exposed to fumes like exhaust fumes and polluted air.

These fumes according to a study cause inflammation in the lungs and cause an increase in the symptoms of asthma. According to asthma UK two-thirds of asthmatic individuals attribute their asthma to pollution (Health news track, 2007). Exposure to other forms of triggers like farming chemicals: just like exhaust fumes, chemicals cause inflammation in the lungs which in turn triggers the symptoms of asthma. Low birth weight: In a study that was conducted reviewing medical records, it was revealed that children born with birth weights that are lower tend to have a higher risk of developing asthma during their childhood and adolescent life than children born with a normal weight.

The exact mechanism is not yet known (Seidman, 1991). Signs and Symptoms                       Symptoms of asthma range on a continuum from minor to severe.

The symptoms also vary among different individuals. The symptoms manifest at varying times as is seen in different individuals. In some, the symptoms may manifest at night. In others, the symptoms may manifest during exercise. There are also those individuals in whom the symptoms manifest when they have been exposed to certain specific triggers (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Common signs and symptoms include: Chest pain or tightness Shortness of breath. Coughing, sneezing, and trouble sleeping due to the shortness of breath Wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling (many children have the wheezing sound when they are asthmatic). You know that your asthma is getting worse when: The frequency with which the signs and symptoms present increase Increased difficulty in breathing as demonstrated by the use of a peak flow meter. Increasing need to use an inhaler (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Confirming diagnosis                       In order to confirm the diagnosis of asthma, lung function tests are done.

The lung function tests are often performed before and after a bronchodilator has been consumed. If an individual's lung function tests improve after using bronchodilators then the individual is likely to be asthmatic.

There are two particular tests namely spirometry and peak flow. Spirometry is a test that basically measures how much the bronchial tubes have narrowed by checking the quantity of air that an individual breathes out after a deep breath and essentially how fast you exhale.   A peak flow meter measures peak flow. It measures how hard an individual breathes out. When an individual has lower than normal peak flow readings, then the individual is asthmatic (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Treatment and Care It is critical that an individual recognizes his triggers and learns to avoid them.

Some of the medications used include long term medications and short term medications. The long term includes leukotriene modifiers (eg Accolate and ZIleuton), long-acting beta-agonists (eg Salmeterol, Formoterol), combination inhalers (Fluticasone & salmeterol), Theophylline. The short term medications include short-acting beta-agonists (Albuterol, levalbuterol, pirbuterol), Ipratropium, oral and intravenous corticosteroids (prednisolone, methylprednisolone). Treatment for asthma of allergic origin includes allergy shots/immunotherapy, Omalizumab (for cases of severe asthma and allergic people), oral and nasal spray decongestants and antihistamines, etc.                       Care for an asthmatic patient requires some changes in lifestyle.

According to Asthma Care Scotland, the Butekayo method is a suitable framework for caring for an asthmatic individual. The method suggests that: An individual should switch from breathing from the mouth to breathing through the nose. Constantly observe the breathing habits and note the causes of triggers within the environment. Use physical exercise and maximize the gain out of it. The method suggests that the diet should be observed and its impact on breathing noted. This would prevent eating food in certain quantities that may exacerbate the condition. The ambient temperature and its impact on breathing, breathing too warm air may not be good for asthmatic patients (Asthma Care Scotland, 2008). Other important guidelines for care include learning how to use the peak flow meter for purposes of monitoring asthma, correct use of medicines.

An asthma action plan helps monitor all the important aspects of care and gives precise actions to be taken in case of an attack. The plan is developed with help of a healthcare provider.


Vann, M., 2011. Smoking and Asthma. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 28 April 2012].

Health News Track, 2007. Diesel Exhaust Fumes affect People with Asthma.[online] Available at: [Accessed on 28 April 2012].

Warner, J., 2011. Overweight Children may be at risk of Asthma.[online]. Available at: [Accessed 28 April 2012].

Seidman, D.S., et al., 1991. Is low Birth Weight a Risk Factor for Asthma During Adolescence? Archives of Disease in Childhood.[online] Available at: [Accessed on 28 April 2012].

Dold, S., 1992. Genetic Risk for Asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis. Archives of Disease in Childhood. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 April 2012].

Capwell, S., 1993. Asthma in Scotland: Epidemiology and Clinical Management. Health Bull. [online]. Available at: [Accessed on 28 April 2012].

Asthma Care Scotland, 2008. Butekayo Breathing Method. [online]Available at: [Accessed on 28 April 2012].

Mayo Clinic, 2010. Asthma.[online] Available at: [Accessed 28 April 2012].

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