September/October 2008 ISSN-1059-6518 Volume 21 Number 5
By Frank Hubbell, DO
Illustrations by T.B.R. Walsh
As described in the feature article, asthma is recurrent (not progressive) and reversible. An asthma attack is caused by allergens that have been inhaled into the airway causing swelling, bronchospasm, and increased mucous production by the bronchioles. This will cause the bronchioles to narrow, producing expiratory wheezing (wheezing on exhalation), which will then cause air to become trapped in the alveoli. Due to the decrease in air movement, and air trapping, asthma patients will complain of a worsening sensation of shortness of breath (SOB)—dyspnea.