Background information respiration | Facts | Basics | Definition

Description of asthma

According to the Global Initiative For Asthma (GINA) the definition of asthma is based on an operational description. In these terms:

"Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. The chronic inflammation causes an associated increase in airway hyperresponsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment."

On the contrary chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) - comprising two related diseases chronic bronchitis and emphysema - is characterised by reduced maximal expiratory flow and slow forced emptying of the lungs. These features do not change markedly over several months and limitation in airflow is only minimally reversible with bronchodilators.


O'Byrne P. GINA Executive Commitee. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention. 2004. National Institutes of Health. Publication No 02-3659

Characteristics of asthma

Select language



Do you have questions?
Contact our experts...


Related Pages