January 30, 2008 6:01am CST
asthma is an obstruction of the bronchioles, characterized by inflammation and constriction. with asthma the airways constrict causing airway obstruction. this constriction can be caused by spasms, edema to the respiratory mucosa, bacterial or viral infections, and mucous from allergic responses. the clinical hallmark sign of asthma is expiratory wheezes. other signs of asthma include inspiratory wheezing, cough, and chest discomfort that is described as a tight feeling or pressure. signs and symptoms of asthma include difficulty breathing (dyspnea), wheezing, productive cough, diaphoresis, neck vein distention, tachycardia, increased respirations, cyanosis, and anxiety. asthma may be induced by strenuous physical exercise or activity. the nurse should be aware and educate the client on the causes of asthma including pollens found in the air, mold, dust mites, cockroaches, dander, and feather pillows. tobacco smoke, air pollutants, infections, aspirin products, cold air, respiratory infections, and GERD are also causes of asthma and acute asthma exacerbations.