Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Asthma and immunology

I suffered a mild asthma attack while cycling to work today, thanks to the influx of cold air into my lungs. So, I decided to write a little about asthma.

Asthma is an immunological disorder in which the patient suffers respiratory difficulty. In this disease, the bronchioles in the lungs are narrowed by inflammation, thus requiring treatment with bronchodilators. The symptoms include wheezing and shortness of breath, which can prevent the afflicted person from engaging in prolonged exercise.

There are several theories which purport to explain the rising incidence of asthma. One places the blame on air pollution. Another purports that the hygenic conditions in the First World cause reduced bacterial exposure, causing inadequate stimulation of the immune system during early childhood. Yet another suggests that the problem is due to non-exposure to parasites such as tapeworms, since the cells which combat these parasites are the same ones which trigger the asthmatic reaction.