The 21st
century is the era of increased air pollution and record breaking environmental
changes that have caused a surge in asthma diagnoses all around the world. Asthma
can affect people of gender, ages, and climates; which is why it is imperative
to know the symptoms of asthma and the signs of a severe asthma attack. The National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute define asthma as “…a chronic (long-term) lung
disease that inflames and narrows the airways” (National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute). Asthma is a respiratory disease that has definitive symptoms such
as chest tightness and shortness of breath, which makes it an easy disease to
diagnose in adults but a little more difficult to diagnose in children. Understanding
and being able to identify the symptoms of asthma and becoming familiar with
the normal functions of the lungs, as well as treatments is important to know
with increasing air pollution percentages each year.

The
respiratory system is responsible for the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen
taken in from the environment. Air is inhaled through the pharynx and larynx
and then travels through the trachea, where is separates into two bronchi in
each lung. Ciliated cells located in each bronchus beat upwards towards the
trachea to try and keep the airways clear of any irritants during respiration. Goblet
cells are on top of the ciliated cells and when there is an asthmatic trigger,
these goblet cells will produce a thick mucous that will trap the dust, pollen,
or bacteria that are inhaled. Now this is where the ciliated cells would be
pushing the mucous and irritants out of the airway to be coughed up or sneezed
out. In each lung, each bronchus then branches off into bronchioles and
continue to the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs. If someone with asthma or
shortness of breath has an asthma attack, this means that the airways are being
constricted by inflammation and that gas exchange is not functioning correctly due
to a build up of mucous and swelling of the airways. Some allergens in the
environment trigger this and the symptoms that accompany an asthma attack
include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness (“Learn
How to Control Asthma”, 2017). When an asthmatic irritant enters the airways it
causes the smooth muscle to constrict and produce mucous which decreases the
amount of air coming through and causes the person to wheeze when having an
asthma attack. 

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