* Adapted to Canada
A microscopic parasite creature responsible for triggering allergies.
A written document indicating when and how to change asthma medication according to the levels of symptoms or peak flows to maintain control of asthma. An action plan must be individualized for each patient. An individual with asthma must understand exactly how to use the plan and must discuss the plan with his or her physician or asthma educator.
A type of powder inhaler (see medication section)
See bronchial anti-inflammatory
Airway hyperreactivity test
See bronchial provocation test
Airway hyperresponsiveness test
See bronchial provocation test
A substance (animal dander, pollen, dust mites, etc.) that may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to a particular allergen.
Small air bags at the end of airways, where gases are moved in and out of the body (oxygen and carbon dioxide).
Usually drugs that prevent or reduce inflammation
A drug that treats infection caused by a certain type of organism i.e. bacteria Antibiotics have no effect on asthma itself but can treat infections that can make asthma worse.
One of the category of medication that open the airways (bronchodilators) by relaxing bronchial muscles. Anticholinergic agents act slower than beta-2 agonists. They are used mainly by those who suffering from chronic bronchitis or emphysema. During severe asthma attacks, they can be used as add-on medications with beta-2 agonists (also bronchodilators).
A drug that counteracts the effects of histamine, a chemical released from inflammatory cells during an allergic response, which affects mainly the eyes and nose e.g. hay fever. It has little effect on asthma however.
Oral anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation and bronchospasm caused by leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are natural substances produced when there is asthmatic inflammation.
Asthma control is defined by certain criteria, including the absence of symptoms or minimal symptoms on less than 4 days per week, no asthma symptoms at night or in the morning less than once per week, minimal use of rescue bronchodilators less than 4 puffs per week for rescue, an ability to participate in normal activities and sports and normal pulmonary function tests. There should be no side effects to medication.
A tendency to develop allergic reactions (asthma, eczema, hay fever, etc.) to certain plant or animal substances. This is due to the production of antibodies (immunoglobulin E) against these last.
One of the classes of bronchodilator medication, which relaxes airway muscles and opens the airways. Beta-2 agonists generally act rapidly when inhaled. They are also called "adrenergic or sympathornimetic agents". Their effects may last 4-6 hours (short-acting beta-2 agonists). Short-acting beta-2 agonists are usually used as required. Long-acting beta-2 agonists are prescribed for regular use in people who are already using an airway anti-inflammatory or medication against airway inflammation.
These are the airways or tubes that carry air to the lungs.
Drugs that reduce airway inflammation. They are classified most often as "steroidal" (those containing cortisone or steroids) and "non-steroidal" (those containing no steroids). These medications should not be confused with Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents to treat arthritis, which can aggravate asthma in some people.
A tendency of the airways to constrict or narrow following exposure to stimuli.
See chronic bronchitis
Bronchial provocation test
A test that mesures the degree of responsiveness of the airways during inhalation of a substance such as histamine or methacholine. This test may help confirm the diagnosis of asthma or determine its severity. Doses of histamine or methacholine are inhaled, producing constriction of the muscles surrounding the airways, which causes a given reduction in lung function (usually a 20% fall in forced expiratory volume in one second FEV). The smaller the dose necessary to produce this airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction), the more the airways are responsive and the more asthma is generally considered severe. Results are interpreted by the physician according to the individual's symptoms and the medication he or she is taking.
A drug that causes the airways to open by relaxing the surrounding muscles. They include beta-2 agonists, anticholinergic agents and theophyllines.
Narrowing of the airways due to constriction or squeezing of the surrounding muscles. It may also be aggravated by airway inflammation (redness, swelling and mucous secretions).
A disease of the airways, caused almost always by smoking, characterized by daily coughing and the bringing up of mucus/phlegm (sputum) over a period of at least three months and which recurs at least two years in a row. It generally involves narrowing of the airways (bronchial obstruction).
This is an irritation (inflammation) that causes watery, red and itchy eyes due to an infection or allergy.
Control of asthma
See asthma control
Corticosteroids sometimes called "cortisone" are steroids and are most effective in reducing inflammation. They can be taken in aerosol form (inhaled) or given as tablets or intravenously. These products are different from anabolic steroids used by some athletes.
Dry powder inhalers containing either a bronchodilator or inhaled steroid (See Medication List in Medication section).
Dry powder inhalers containing either a bronchodilator or inhaled steroid. (See Medication List in Medication section)
Dry powder inhaler
A small device for administering inhaled medication for asthma. The medication in these inhalers is in the form of a dry powder that must be inhaled. There is no device or gas to propel the powder (Aerolizer®, Diskhaler®, Diskus®, Turbuhaler®).
This is a sign of an allergy that shows itself in the form of redness and dryness of the skin that causes itching. Eczema appears mainly on the inside of elbows, back of knees and hands, etc.
A type of cell often found in the blood and airways of asthmatics or patients with allergic diseases. These cells appear to play a role in asthma and allergic reaction.
A hormone that is naturally produced by the body, particularly at times of stress. It may be used for treatment by injection, from a syringe (Anakit®, EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®), as a treatment for severe anaphylactic allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).
Airway secretions or phlegm that are coughed up.
See forced expiratory volume in one second
Forced expiration curve
Forced expiratory maneuver
Forced expiratory volume in one second
The volume of air a person can breathe out from the lungs in the first second of a forced expiratory maneuver. This test is used to determine the degree of airway narrowing.
The upward movement of stomach fluid into the esophagus or tube that connects the stomach to the mouth (regurgitation), often due to weakness of the muscle between the stomach and esophagus. This may worsen as a result of leaning forward or lying down, and often produces an acidic taste in the mouth.
A food additive that can cause asthma or allergy-like reactions (often found in Chinese food, e.g. Chinese restaurant syndrome).
A substance produced by the body, particularly during an allergic reaction. Histamine appears to be mainly responsible for manifestations of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (hay fever) and contribute to the manifestations of asthma. Histamine is also used to test for increased airway responsiveness in bronchial provocation tests during which increased doses of histamine are inhaled to determine if the airways are more sensitive than normal such as in asthma patients.
House dust mites
A device used to measure the relative humidity of the air.
See bronchial hyperreactivity
Immunotherapy consists of repeated injections of small doses of an allergen to which the patient is sensitized (allergic) in an attempt to create a tolerance to this allergen and therefore reduce an allergic response during later exposure.
A response of the tissues to an irritant substance from outside. In the airways, inflammation results in swelling, redness and increased airway secretions.
A substance used in the plastics industry, insulation , automobile paint and other industries, which can cause occupational asthma.
A natural substance (mediators) involved in inflammatory reactions leading to swelling and increased airway mucus in asthma (e.g. bronchi). This chemical substance comes from arachidonic acid which is a fatty acid in cell membranes.
Natural substances released by the body during inflammatory processes. These substances are responsible for many of the signs of inflammation (see inflammation).
For all medications, see Medication List in Medication section.
A small device for administering aerosol medication for asthma. These inhalers contain a propellant gas.
A substance used to test for increased airway responsiveness (or reactivity) in bronchial provocation tests during which increased doses of methacholine are inhaled to determine if the airways are more sensitive than normal, such as in asthma patient (see bronchial hyperactivity).
See chronic bronchitis
Development of polyps (inflammatory outgrowths) of the lining of the nose. Asthmatics who have nasal polyps tend to have an intolerance to Aspirin (causing reactions that may be severe).
A method of giving a liquid drug to be inhaled using a device that gives a determined rate of air flow. These aerosol medications are inhaled using a mouthpiece or a mask.
Asthma caused by a workplace substance. This term is usually reserved for asthma that is caused by sensitization to a given substance or exposure to a toxic substance and not to the simple irritant effect in a person already suffering from asthma.
The maximum speed at which someone can breathe out air from the lungs. Peak flow can be measured using a number of different devices, including a portable one called a peak flow meter. How fast air goes out depends on how hard one tries and usually happens in the first second of blowing out.
Peak flow meter
A portable device to measure peak flow i.e. the maximum speed at which someone can breathe out air from the lungs.
See chronic bronchitis
See nasal polyps
A type of corticosteroid (cortisone) taken by mouth.
Pulmonary fonction tests
A series of tests used to assess the functionning of lungs, as well as degree of airway opening and responsiveness/excitability.
Related to breathing.
Inflammation of the lining tissue of the nose due to an allergy or infection, causing swelling of the lining of the nose (swelling of the nasal mucus) and increased production of nasal secretions. This causes nasal discharge, mucus, itching and sneezing.
Inflammation of the lining tissue of the eyes and nose due to an allergy or infection, causing nasal discharge, mucus, sneezing, irritation and red watery eyes (see rhinitis and conjunctivitis).
Adverse/bad effects caused by a medication.
Spacers or holding chambers are tubes of different sizes that attach to metered-dose inhalers making it easier to take inhaled/aerosol medication. They are helpful to those who have problems in coordinating their puffers with breathing and decrease the amount of drug left in the mouth which can lead to side effects, e.g. thrush from inhaled steroids.
A breath test to measure airway obstruction. Using a device called a spirometer, the volume of air breathed out from the lungs is measures in a certain time (one second for example). The person takes a deep breath and breathes out into the device through the mouth as quickly and for as long as possible with a clip on the nose. This test can be taken before or after use of medication to open the airways.
See chronic bronchitis
A group of food additives that in some cases can cause life-threatening reactions in sensitive individuals.
See beta-2 agonists
A type of bronchodilator medicine to open the airways, taken in tablet form, some of which are effective for 12 hours and others 24 hours. Theophylline must be taken regularly to be effective, and levels of this drug in the blood must be monitored regularly to avoid toxicity.
A fungus or yeast infection of the mouth and throat tha may develop due to chronic use of inhaled corticosteroids. It is usually treated with an anti-fungal agent. Rinsing the mouth after use of an inhaled corticosteroid or using a spacer may reduce the risk of developping thrush.
A type of powder inhaler.