Natural History of Asthma

  • T. A. E. Platts-Mills
  • P. W. Heymann


The characteristic symptoms of asthma are caused by reversible airway obstruction. This obstruction is largely due to smooth muscle spasm occurring in bronchi that are already hyperreactive. In addition to short-term episodes of wheezing, patients can often date the onset of their disease, i.e., the time when they started to have episodes of wheezing. Although very little prospective data is available, we assume that the onset of the disease coincides with the onset or increase in bronchial reactivity. Similarly, we assume that remissions (or cure) of asthma in most cases represent times at which there are falls in bronchial reactivity. When patients are asked about the causes of their asthma, they usually identify the trigger factors which cause their already hyperreactive airways to go into spasm. The underlying or true causes of the disease are the factors that lead to hyperreactivity, and most patients do not understand the causes of their bronchial reactivity. In trying to discuss the natural history of asthma, we will focus on what is known about the development and reversal of bronchial hyperreactivity rather than the short-term factors that influence episodes of bronchospasm.


Allergy Clin Immunol House Dust Glyceryl Ether Bronchial Reactivity Inhalant Allergen 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. A. E. Platts-Mills
  • P. W. Heymann

There are no affiliations available

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