What is Eosinophilic Asthma?
Eosinophilic Asthma is similar to other forms of asthma in which the airways get inflamed and are blocked by mucous or fluids making it difficult to breathe. The only difference with Eosinophilic Asthma is that this is accompanied by elevated levels of white blood cells called eosinophils. The function of the eosinophils is to help the immune system fight off infections. However, if the levels of white blood cells become abnormally high they inflame the airways and also affect the sinuses and nasal passages.[1,2,3]
Generally speaking, with elevated levels of eosinophils the symptoms of asthma including inflammation become more severe. Eosinophilic Asthma is seen mostly in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Eosinophilic Asthma is a condition that is quite tough to treat and can significantly impact the quality of life of a person.[1,2,3]
It has been estimated that around 25 million people in the United States have some form of asthma and among these 15% have the most severe form of this disease which is very difficult to control. Eosinophilic Asthma belongs to the severe category of asthma and is responsible for about 60% of cases of severe asthma in the United States.[1,2,3]
What Causes Eosinophilic Asthma?
There has been no root cause for Eosinophilic Asthma identified. While other forms of asthma need an environmental allergen to trigger the symptoms, Eosinophilic Asthma does not need an allergen or a triggering mechanism. A person can have high levels of eosinophils when it is fighting off an infection but in cases of Eosinophilic Asthma there has been no clear reason identified as to what causes such a drastic increase in eosinophils. Researchers are looking into a possible link with genetics in the development of Eosinophilic Asthma even though none has been found as of yet.
What are the Symptoms of Eosinophilic Asthma?
The symptoms of Eosinophilic Asthma are quite similar to that of other forms of asthma and include difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, persistent cough, nasal drainage, stuffy nose, loss of sense of smell, and nasal polyps. It is important for people to visit a physician if they persistently have shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness.
It is important for a person with Eosinophilic Asthma to get timely treatment to prevent any untoward complications as this condition can cause permanent damage to the airways and lung tissue scarring. In addition, people with asthma are recommended to visit their physician at least once a year for a checkup to ensure that they are responding to the treatment favorably.
A person with Eosinophilic Asthma should go to the emergency room in cases of the instant relief medication does not provide any benefit and the person finds it difficult to speak or ambulate. Emergency room visit is also necessary in people with Eosinophilic Asthma if their lips and nails start to turn blue.
How is Eosinophilic Asthma Treated?
It is estimated that about 9% of the population in the United States has asthma of some form. Experts however believe that asthma is just a broader term for a number of different chronic respiratory diseases and each one of these medical conditions has its own specific treatment. Eosinophilic Asthma until recently was primarily treated with oral corticosteroids; however, the efficacy and response to treatment with this medication was mixed and moreover some people became dependent on this medication.
Therefore, new avenues were looked at and researchers have come up with biologic therapy for treatment of Eosinophilic Asthma. This therapy involves use of leukotriene antagonists to calm down the inflammation. Additionally, antibiotics are also used to treat the sinus infections that are seen commonly with Eosinophilic Asthma. A person with Eosinophilic Asthma will also have nasal polyps, sinus infections, and inner ear infections caused by elevated white blood cells.
Additionally, Eosinophilic Asthma is also connected to various other medical conditions that are caused due to high levels of eosinophils. Conditions related to Eosinophils are not that common but their numbers are steadily increasing and are becoming worrisome around the world. This is more so when eosinophils attack the GI system.
What Is The Prognosis Of Eosinophilic Asthma?
Even though the link between elevated white blood count and asthma has been known for more than three decades but researchers are still trying to identify a potential treatment for Eosinophilic Asthma. The treatments that have been developed recently have shown great promise with regard to treating Eosinophilic Asthma but more work needs to be done in this field.
People with Eosinophilic Asthma tend to have frequent flare-up of symptoms and it is quite common for them to become dependent on corticosteroids for relief which can have detrimental effects on the health of the person. Thus it is necessary for people with Eosinophilic Asthma to adhere to the treatment recommendations of their physicians diligently to help manage the symptoms and prevent any complications of Eosinophilic Asthma.