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 antiinflam-matory medications provoke asthma in some patients.
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