The word 'asthma' originates from an ancient Greek word meaning panting. It is a chronic obstructive disease characterized by tracheobronchial hyperreac-tivity leading to paroxysmal airway narrowing, which may reverse spontaneously or as a result of treatment. The smooth muscle surrounding the bronchi has an abnormally increased reaction to stimuli. Specific bronchial stimuli include inhaled allergens (e.g., house-dust mite, pollen, and moulds). Nonspecific bronchial stimuli include upper respiratory tract infections, cold air, exercise, cigarette smoke, excitement, emotional stress, and chemical irritants. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications provoke asthma in some patients.
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