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This page will provide you with a comprehensive overview on the pathophysiology of bronchospasm, the cause of bronchospasm, the symptoms of bronchospasm, and bronchospasm treatment. We sincerely hope that our website helps to further your understanding on the topic of bronchospasm, and specifically, bronchospasm in COPD. If you have further questions, please contact a healthcare professional.

Bronchospasm Treatment and Diagnosis

Bronchospasm, an abnormal temporary constriction of bronchi, is common in conditions such as asthma, COPD and anaphylactic shock. Importantly, the terms bronchospasm and bronchoconstriction are invariably used to describe the condition. Like the namesbronchospasm and bronchoconstriction suggests, the conditionprimarily involves a sudden spasm of smooth muscles situated in the walls of bronchi;this ultimately leads to the narrowing of airways in lungs (constriction)and obstruction of breathing.For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on bronchospasm in COPD; it exuberates the pulmonary (lung) obstruction in COPD and has significant implications with its progression.

COPD as a cause of bronchospasm

Although bronchospasms can be induced by a variety of factors, such as an allergic reaction or increased mucus production in lungs, one important cause of bronchospasm is COPD. COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease, is often associated with an inflammatory response whereby a number of immune cells are recruited to the lungs. Specifically, COPD is a cause of bronchospasm as it involves the release of substances from the immune cells, which consequently induce the smooth muscles along the bronchi wall to contract. This leads to narrowing of airways in lungs andincreased mucus production in lungs; ultimately, it reduces the amount of available oxygen and causes breathlessness, coughing and hypoxia. The resulting hypoxia can exuberate cell damage in the lungs through both cell death and inducing another immune response. Some common irritants that induce bronchospasm in COPD include:

  • Pollution
  • cigarette smoke
  • strong odors
  • aerosol sprays
  • paint fumes

Symptoms of Bronchospasm

The symptoms of bronchospasm, regardless if it is bronchospasm in COPD or just by itself, are fairly apparent and specific. This is because the condition directly affects breathing. Some of the common symptoms of bronchospasm may include:

  • Difficulty breathing: The narrowing of airways in lungs often directly contribute to difficulty in breathing.
  • Increased Mucus Production in Lungs: The recruitment of immune cells often causes increases in mucus production.
  • Wheezing: This is a high pitched whistling sound during exhalation possibly made due to the constriction.
  • Coughing: Mucus build up may lead to unavoidable, deep coughing.
  • Dyspnea (Shortness of Breath): The lack of oxygen may cause the body to struggle for air.

Notably, the symptoms of bronchospasm are amplified by increased respiratory ventilation.If you experience extreme breathing issues during activities, it is essential to contact a health care professional and receive appropriate bronchospasm treatment before the effects of hypoxia begin to damage your respiratory system.

Bronchospasm Diagnosis

There are three key methods used by physicians to diagnose bronchospasm: chest X-rays, pulmonary function tests and CT scans. When a patient first comes into the health professional’s office, the caregiver asks about history of allergies, asthma, and illnesses. If the professional suspects bronchospasm, they will then perform a chest X-ray to take a picture of the lungs; this will provide pertinent information on infections and pneumonia. Additionally, they may take pulmonary function tests to how well the lungs are working. The tests do this by measuring the strength of breath when exhaling. Lastly, a CT scan (also called a CAT scan), is used to provide information about potential blood clots in the lungs. This will typically involve the use of dye to help the physicians get a better picture.

Bronchospasm Treatment and Medication Options

Bronchospasm treatment typically involves the avoiding allergens and using various bronchospasm medications. Specifically, because bronchospasm and bronchoconstriction is simply the contraction of smooth muscles in the airways or bronchi, a doctor will prescribe drugs that specifically relax these muscles. Some common bronchospasm medications may include: albuterol,terbutaline, isoetharine, inhaled corticosteroids, and metaproterenol. These bronchospasm medications are typically used for a wide variety of conditions including asthma. Moreover, it is not uncommon for doctors to include COPD medications in their bronchospasm treatment, especially if they are treating bronchospasm in COPD. For example, one commonly used bronchospasm medication, Beta 2 agonists (act on the β2 adrenergic receptors), are commonly used to relax the smooth muscles.

For any additional information on the symptoms of bronchospasm and bronchospasm treatment, please contact your local healthcare professional