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Adult Nursing PracticeUsing evidence in care$
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Ian Bullock, Jill Macleod Clark, and Joanne Rycroft-Malone

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697410

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199697410.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 25 January 2022

Understanding Asthma

Understanding Asthma

(p.15) 2 Understanding Asthma
Adult Nursing Practice

Linda Pearce

Samantha Prigmore

Oxford University Press

The aim of this chapter is to provide nurses with the knowledge to be able to assess, manage, and care for people with asthma in an evidence-based and person-centred way. The chapter will provide a comprehensive overview of the causes, risk factors, and impact of asthma, before exploring best practice to deliver care, as well as to prevent or minimize further ill-health. Nursing assessments and priorities are highlighted throughout, and the nursing management of the symptoms and common health problems associated with asthma can be found in Chapters 15 and 22, respectively. In the absence of a standardized definition of asthma, it is accurately described as:…Airway inflammation and hyper-responsiveness characterised by widespread reversible narrowing of the airways, which varies either spontaneously or in response to treatment. (British Thoracic Society/Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, 2009)…The clinician diagnosis of asthma is based on symptoms, patient history, lung function testing (including peak expiratory flow rate diary), and the demonstration of an efficacious response to a trial of inhaled therapy. An estimated 5.4 million people in the UK are receiving treatment for asthma (Lung and Asthma Information Agency, 2006). In 2006–07, there were 67,077 hospital admissions for asthma in England, over 40% of which were for children under the age of 15 (Asthma UK, 2010). Asthma is estimated to cost the NHS £1 billion per year. With one in five households affected, asthma accounts for at least 12.7 million workdays lost each year (Asthma UK, 2005). In 2008, there were 1,071 deaths in England and Wales due to asthma (Office for National Statistics, 2009). Atopy is a genetically based condition in which individuals have a tendency to hypersensitivity in their reaction to allergens and other triggers. The reaction is usually immediate and localized, and manifests in diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and contact dermatitis. Genetic studies (Holloway et al., 2010) investigating atopy and asthma have shown linkages to many chromosomal locations indicating genetic heterogeneity (having different characteristics and qualities). There is genetic control over the ability to produce significant quantities of immunoglobulin E (IgE), a blood plasma protein that activates allergic reactions by acting as an antibody, when exposed to environmental allergens.

Keywords:   asthma, breathing control, cardiac failure, haemoptysis, inhalers, lung function tests, methylxanthines, omalizumab, peak expiratory flow, sputum

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