Eosinophilic asthma is a subtype of asthma characterized by higher levels of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the airways. These cells play a role in the body’s immune response. In addition, knowing about this type of asthma is required to differentiate it from normal asthma.
Read this post to learn more about this type of asthma, like its symptoms, causes, and treatment procedures.
What Are The Symptoms Of Eosinophilic Asthma?
This subtype of asthma is characterized by elevated levels of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the airways and lungs. These elevated levels contribute to inflammation and can cause asthma symptoms. Here are the various eosinophilic asthma symptoms:
Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that occurs during breathing, especially during exhalation. It’s caused by narrowed airways due to inflammation and mucus buildup.
2. Shortness of Breath
Eosinophilic asthma can lead to difficulty breathing, particularly during physical activity or exposure to triggers like allergens or irritants.
Persistent coughing, especially at night or early morning, is a common symptom. The cough may be dry or produce small amounts of mucus.
4. Chest Tightness
Individuals with eosinophilic asthma often describe a sensation of tightness or pressure in the chest. This occurs due to the narrowing of the airways and inflammation.
5. Increased Mucus Production
Inflammation in the airways can lead to an overproduction of mucus. This can cause congestion and a feeling of phlegm or mucus in the throat.
6. Coughing or Wheezing After Exercising
Exercise-induced symptoms are common in eosinophilic asthma. Physical activity can trigger airway inflammation and lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
7. Nighttime Symptoms
Eosinophilic asthma symptoms often worsen at night or during the early morning hours. This can disrupt sleep and lead to poor sleep quality.
Asthma attacks or exacerbations characterize eosinophilic asthma. During these episodes, symptoms worsen significantly, and immediate medical intervention may be necessary.
9. Symptoms Triggered by Allergens or Irritants
People with eosinophilic asthma may experience more pronounced symptoms when exposed to allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or environmental irritants like smoke or strong odors.
10. Symptoms Resistant to Bronchodilators
Bronchodilators, which are commonly used to relieve asthma symptoms by opening up the airways, may provide limited relief for those with eosinophilic asthma. This is because inflammation plays a significant role in causing symptoms.
What Causes Eosinophilic Asthma?
The underlying causes of eosinophilic asthma are complex and can involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors. Here’s a detailed explanation of the potential causes, which can be ascertained by conducting various eosinophilic asthma tests:
1. Genetic Predisposition
Genetics play a role in the susceptibility to asthma and other allergic conditions. Individuals with a family history of asthma or allergies may be more prone to developing eosinophilic asthma.
2. Immunological Factors
Eosinophils are part of the immune system and are involved in fighting off infections and controlling inflammation. In eosinophilic asthma, there is an exaggerated immune response that leads to an overproduction of eosinophils in the airways.
This response is driven by immune cells called T-helper 2 (Th2) cells, which release cytokines that stimulate eosinophil growth and activation.
3. Allergen Exposure
Allergens are substances that trigger an allergic response. Exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and certain foods can lead to an immune response that involves eosinophil activation and subsequent inflammation in the airways.
4. Environmental Factors
Environmental factors, such as pollution, tobacco smoke, and occupational exposures to certain irritants, can contribute to airway inflammation and exacerbate eosinophilic asthma symptoms.
5. Airway Remodeling
Chronic inflammation in the airways of individuals with eosinophilic asthma can lead to structural changes in the airway walls, a process known as airway remodeling. This remodeling can further contribute to airflow obstruction and asthma symptoms.
6. Viral Infections
Respiratory viral infections, particularly during childhood, can trigger an immune response that predisposes individuals to the development of eosinophilic asthma. The immune system’s response to the infection can lead to persistent airway inflammation.
7. Microbiome Imbalance
The composition of microorganisms in the airways, known as the lung microbiome, can influence airway health. Imbalances in the microbiome may contribute to airway inflammation and eosinophilic asthma.
8. Dysregulated Immune Response
In individuals with eosinophilic asthma, the immune response becomes dysregulated, leading to an exaggerated reaction to harmless substances. This dysregulation can result in chronic inflammation and ongoing symptoms.
How Is Eosinophilic Asthma Different From Normal Asthma?
Here are the key differences between eosinophilic asthma and normal asthma, similar to how eosinophilic esophagitis and asthma are different:
|Differentiating Factor||Eosinophilic Asthma||Normal Asthma|
|Elevated Eosinophils||In this subtype, there is a significant increase in eosinophils in the airways and lungs. Eosinophils play a role in inflammation and immune responses.||While inflammation is present in all types of asthma, eosinophil levels may not be as consistently elevated in all individuals with asthma. This specifically highlights the prominent role of eosinophils in driving inflammation.|
|Underlying Mechanisms||The inflammation and symptoms here are primarily driven by an immune response involving T-helper 2 (Th2) cells. These cells. release cytokines that stimulate eosinophil growth and activation.||Inflammation in normal asthma can be triggered by a variety of immune responses, including those related to other types of immune cells and allergic reactions.|
|Response to Treatment||This subtype of asthma often responds well to medications that specifically target eosinophils or the Th2 pathway. Biologic medications that inhibit eosinophil growth (such as anti-IL-5 agents) can be particularly effective.||Treatment for normal asthma typically involves bronchodilators (e.g., inhalers) to open airways and reduce inflammation. However, the specific treatment approach can vary based on the individual’s symptoms and triggers.|
|Severity and Symptoms||Symptoms can be severe and difficult to control, especially if eosinophil levels are significantly elevated. People with eosinophilic asthma may experience frequent exacerbations and need more intensive treatment.||While asthma symptoms can range from mild to severe, not all cases of asthma are characterized by consistently high eosinophil levels. The severity and frequency of symptoms can vary widely among individuals with normal asthma.|
How To Treat Eosinophilic Asthma?
The various options for eosinophilic asthma treatment are:
1. Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS)
These medications are the cornerstone of eosinophilic asthma treatment. ICS is inhaled through an inhaler or a nebulizer. They work by reducing inflammation in the airways and preventing eosinophils from causing excessive irritation.
ICS are generally safe for long-term use and are often used as a maintenance therapy to prevent asthma symptoms.
2. Long-Acting Beta-Agonists (LABAs)
These medications are often combined with ICS to enhance their effectiveness. LABAs help relax the muscles around the airways, making it easier to breathe. They are not used as standalone therapy and are always prescribed in combination with ICS.
3. Biologic Therapies
These are a newer class of medications designed to target specific molecules or immune pathways involved in this type of asthma. They are typically used for individuals with severe eosinophilic asthma that doesn’t respond well to other treatments. Examples of biologics include:
- Anti-IL-5 Agents: These medications block interleukin-5, a protein that stimulates the production and activation of eosinophils.
- Anti-IL-4 and IL-13 Agents: These drugs target other cytokines that play a role in the immune response, causing eosinophilic inflammation.
4. Leukotriene Modifiers
These are oral medications that can help manage asthma symptoms. They work by reducing inflammation and relaxing the airway muscles. Leukotriene modifiers are usually used in conjunction with ICS and LABAs.
5. Oral Corticosteroids
In severe cases or during asthma exacerbations, a short course of oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to quickly reduce inflammation. However, due to potential side effects, long-term use of oral corticosteroids is avoided whenever possible.
6. Allergen And Trigger Avoidance
Identifying and minimizing exposure to allergens and irritants that can trigger asthma symptoms is important. This might involve making changes to your living environment, such as using air purifiers or avoiding certain allergenic substances. This is a great eosinophilic asthma natural treatment plan.
7. Asthma Action Plan
Creating an asthma action plan with your healthcare provider helps you understand how to manage your condition effectively. It outlines the steps to take based on your symptoms, peak flow readings, and medication adjustments.
8. Regular Monitoring
Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are essential. Monitoring lung function using peak flow meters or spirometry helps track how well your asthma is controlled and guides treatment adjustments.
9. Lifestyle Management
Maintaining the basics of a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, proper nutrition, staying hydrated, and managing stress can positively impact asthma control.
Eosinophilic Asthma happens due to an excessive immune response that triggers inflammation in the airways, leading to symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. It often requires targeted treatments, such as corticosteroids or biologic medications, to manage inflammation and control symptoms.
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