An asthma attack, also known as an asthma episode or flare,
is any shortness of breath which interrupts the asthmatic's
well-being and requires either medication or some other form of
intervention for the asthmatic to breathe normally again.
Wheezing is the whistling or rattling sound that occurs when
air flows through obstructed airways. At the start of an
asthma attack, wheezing usually only occurs while exhaling, or
breathing out, but as the attack progresses, wheezing may
then be heard both while inhaling and exhaling. If after
the attack progresses further, the asthmatic then stops wheezing,
this may indicate that many bronchioles (small airways) have
become completely blocked, which is a very serious condition.
No, not all asthmatics wheeze. Although wheezing is extremely
common in asthmatics, in All About
Asthma, Dr. Paul says,
"It is important to note that not all asthmatic symptoms need be
present for one to experience an asthma attack. For instance,
not all asthmatics wheeze. And sometimes wheezing is so slight,
it can only be heard with a stethoscope. With some asthmatics,
coughing is the only symptom present." Similarly, in Children
with Asthma, Dr. Plaut states that children with chronic coughs
"may have asthma even though no wheezing is present." He
diagnoses such children with asthma if their peak flow improves
when given an inhaled bronchodilator.
In Children with Asthma, Dr. Plaut defines "coughing asthma"
as "a form of asthma in which coughing is the only symptom and
there is no abnormality in any lung function test." This
condition is also known as "cough variant asthma." Coughing
asthma often improves when standard asthma medications are
No, asthma itself is not hereditary, but there does seem to be
a hereditary component to the tendency to develop asthma. In
All About Asthma, Dr. Paul states that if neither parent has
asthma, the chances of each of their children having asthma are
less than 10%. When one parent has asthma, the chances rise to
25%, and when both parents have asthma, the chances climb to 50%.
(Actually, there is considerable disagreement among my sources
as to the exact numbers, but all agree that the chances climb
dramatically if one or both parents have asthma.)
- 1.1.1 What is wheezing?
- 1.1.2 Do all asthmatics wheeze?
- 1.1.3 What is `coughing asthma'?
- 1.1.4 Is asthma hereditary?
Similarly, if one or both parents have allergies, the chances
of each of their children having allergies are 35% and 65%,
respectively, compared to a less than 10% chance if neither
parent has allergies.
However, Dr. Paul cautions that "children don't inherit asthma
itself, but the tendency to develop it." Whether or not an
individual develops asthma is also influenced by their exposure
to various other factors such as infections, irritants, and
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