HATTIE YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY HATTIE YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Young woman standing at a window overcome by an asthma attack. To alleviate the severity of the attack, she has opened the window. Asthma attacks vary greatly, ranging from mild breathlessness to respiratory failure. The main symptoms are wheezing, a dry cough, a feeling of tightness in the chest. During a severe attack it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe, causing distress and anxiety; eventually the face may turn blue. Bronchial asthma is of two types: allergic, caused by dust, pollen, hair, air pollutants; and intrinsic asthma with no apparent external cause. There is a hereditary factor to asthma. Treatment is with drugs which dilate the lung bronchioles.
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