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The role of psychic factors in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma

Author(s): Vučević Danijela | Radosavljević Tatjana | Mladenović Dušan | Todorović Vera

Journal: Srpski Arhiv za Celokupno Lekarstvo
ISSN 0370-8179

Volume: 139;
Issue: 3-4;
Start page: 209;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: bronchial asthma | psychic factors | emotional stress

Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells play a role, in particular mast cells, eosinophils, neutrophils, T-lymphocytes and epithelial cells. In susceptible individuals this inflammation causes recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and cough, particularly at night and/or in the early morning. These symptoms are usually associated with variable and extensive limitations of airflow in the bronchi reversible spontaneously or by treatment. It has been shown that restrain of the effectors of stress response participate in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma. Anger that is not expressed and frustrations may activate the limbic stress pathway. Thus, the released neurotransmitters followed by excitation thus causing psychogenic (mental or emotional) stress. It is also known that emotional stress may be responsible for the exacerbation of asthma. Namely, pronounced emotions cause hyperventilation and hypocapnia inducing bronchospasm. Certain psychological personality features are related to adaptive or inadequate body response to numerous life events. Thus, until the beginning of the last century, bronchial asthma was referred to as asthma nervosa, because clinicians clearly observed the psychological profile of patients with predominant fear of asphyxia and recurrent attacks of paroxysmal dyspnoea. Besides, increased sensitivity, repression of aggressive feelings and expressive empathy have been identified as the most frequent psychological characteristics of asthmatic patients. However, scientists are still far from a full understanding of bronchial asthma pathogenesis. The contribution of psychic factors has become meaningful in the understanding of the development of bronchial asthma. Having in mind that in the majority of patients asthma is a lifelong condition, there is a hope that further investigations of bronchial asthma psychogenesis will improve prevention and treatment of this disease.
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