George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
Alan Szeftel, MD
Dr. Szeftel received his Medical Degree from the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa. His clinical training was at Groote Schuur Hospital. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard University. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care and Allergy and Immunology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Myths, facts, and statistics about asthma
- What is asthma?
- From the past to the present
- The scope of the problem
- Normal bronchial tubes
- How does asthma affect breathing?
- The importance of inflammation
- Which triggers cause an asthma attack?
- The many faces of asthma
- Types: allergic (extrinsic) and nonallergic (intrinsic) asthma
- Typical asthma symptoms and signs
- Acute asthma attack
- What medications are used in the treatment of asthma?
- Asthma At A Glance
- Asthma FAQs
- Find a local Asthma & Allergy Specialist in your town
The importance of inflammation
Inflammation, or swelling, is a normal response of the body to injury or infection. The blood flow increases to the affected site and cells rush in and ward off the offending problem. The healing process has begun. Usually, when the healing is complete, the inflammation subsides. Sometimes, the healing process causes scarring. The central issue in asthma, however, is that the inflammation does not resolve completely on its own. In the short term, this results in recurrent "attacks" of asthma. In the long term, it may lead to permanent thickening of the bronchial walls, called airway "remodeling." If this occurs, the narrowing of the bronchial tubes may become irreversible and poorly responsive to medications. When this fixed obstruction to airflow develops, asthma is then classified in the group of lung conditions known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Therefore, the goals of asthma treatment are: (1) in the short term, to control airway inflammation in order to reduce the reactivity of the airways; and (2) in the long term, to prevent airway remodeling.
The hallmark of managing asthma is the prevention and treatment of airway inflammation. It is also likely that control of the inflammation will prevent airway remodeling and thereby prevent permanent loss of lung function.
Various triggers in susceptible individuals result in airway inflammation. Prolonged inflammation induces a state of airway hyperreactivity, which might progress to airway remodeling unless treated effectively.
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