What is Asthma?


sthma is one the most common chronic lung conditions. It affects the bronchioles, which are the smallest airways in the lungs, causing them to narrow even more. This narrowing is reversible and temporary, and it causes the typical symptoms of asthma, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Asthma is more common during childhood, but it can start at any age and in some cases, it continues through to adulthood. It can also run in some families. Currently there is no cure for asthma, but there are many ongoing clinical trials focusing on asthma treatments.

What Causes Asthma?

The exact cause of asthma hasn’t been discovered, but it is known to be the result of different environmental and genetic factors. Some of these factors include:


There are many environmental factors that play a role in the development of asthma, such as air pollution, presence of allergens, mold, and dust mites. Overall air quality greatly affects the incidence of asthma.

Infectious diseases

Infections, such as the one caused by the respiratory syncytial virus, can increase the risk of developing asthma.


Although asthma is not a hereditary condition, certain genes have been found to be implicated in the disease. It is likely that asthma is caused by the combination of the expression of these genes and the presence of certain environmental factors.


Certain drugs, such as aspirin and beta blockers, can trigger asthma attacks in some people.


Pets, or animal fur or feathers, can trigger an attack in certain patients.

During an asthma attack, certain triggers cause excessive inflammation in the bronchioles, which in turn causes the airways to narrow and to produce more secretions or mucus. The combination of narrowed bronchioles and secretions block the airway, which makes it harder to breathe properly. Much clinical research is ongoing to not only further understand the cause of asthma, but also how to treat an asthma attack.

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How is Asthma Diagnosed?

First, the doctor must examine the patient and their medical history. Certain symptoms, such as shortness of breath (dyspnea), coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness, will point to an asthma diagnosis. After this, a procedure called spirometry will be carried out to confirm the diagnosis.

During a spirometry, the patient will be asked to blow air into a device called spirometer, and said device will deliver certain results which will allow the doctor to classify the patient’s symptoms according to severity. A spirometry measures:

Forced Expiratory Volume in One Second or FEV1

This represents the total amount of air that you can blow out in one minute.

Forced Vital Capacity or FVC:

The total amount of air that you can exhale in one breath.

A peak flow meter can also be used to measure your breathing capacity. It is a small device and it is recommended that every asthma patient own one, so that they can measure their peak expiratory flow rate or PEFR, which will allow them to know the degree of obstruction in their airways at any given point in time.

Using data such as the frequency of symptoms, how often they occur during the night, FEV1 and its variability, and how often medications need to be used, asthma is classified as intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent. It can also be classified as extrinsic or intrinsic depending on whether the symptoms are triggered by allergens or not, respectively.

Treating Asthma

There isn’t a permanent cure for asthma, however, different medications can be used to improve the symptoms it causes. Patients usually receive certain types of drugs to treat acute episodes, and different ones to decrease or prevent attacks in the long term. Some of these medications include:

Fast Acting Drugs: 

  • Short-acting beta2-adrenoceptor agonists (SABA): these drugs represent the first choice of treatment for acute asthma symptoms, and they include salbutamol, bitolterol, fenoterol,levosalbutamol, and orciprenaline.
  • Anticholinergics: can be used in conjunction with SABA to strengthen their effects, or alone in people allergic to them. The most used anticholinergic is ipratropium bromide.
  • During severe attacks, inhaled epinephrine is sometimes used.

Long-Term Management:

  • Corticosteroids are commonly used to control asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids are preferred, such as beclomethasone, budesonide, and fluticasone.
  • Long-acting beta-adrenoceptor agonists (LABA) can be used together with corticosteroids, and they are not used alone frequently. They include formoterol and salmeterol.
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists can be added to the long-term treatment of mild or moderate asthma. They include montelukast and zafirlukast.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy:

Medications such as omalizumab, mepolizumab, and reslizumab have been approved for use in teenagers and adults with severe asthma, and they have been found to reduce the use of corticosteroids by up to 50%.

Bronchial Thermoplasty:

This procedure involves the delivery of thermal energy to the airway wall during a series of bronchoscopy procedures. Symptoms might be exacerbated during the first months after therapy, but they seem to decrease afterwards.

Asthma Clinical Trials

Considering the fact that asthma affects a large number of people, it is only natural for doctors and scientists to want to discover new ways to treat this condition and improve the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

Asthma clinical trials aim to understand the causes of asthma, and to test out new medications and even lifestyle and dietary changes to treat the disease.

Joining a clinical trial provides patients a greater control over their health, and gives them access to healthcare provided by teams of experts in their fields. Trials are carried out in universities, hospitals, and research centers. If you are interested in joining a clinical trial to find new ways to manage your asthma, ask your doctor about clinical trials in your area or contact organizations to find out about trials available to you.

ClinicalTrials.gov: Recruiting Studies | Asthma | Last update posted in the last 300 days Studies found on ClinicalTrials.gov by a search of: Recruiting Studies | Asthma | Last update posted in the last 300 days

  • The Asthma Breathing Record Study
    on August 7, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   AsthmaIntervention:   Sponsors:   Cambridge Respiratory Innovations Limited;   National Institute for Health Research, United Kingdom;   Portsmouth Hospitals NHS TrustRecruiting

  • The Genomics and Metagenomics of Asthma Severity
    on August 6, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Asthma;   Asthma AttackIntervention:   Sponsors:   Maria Pino-Yanes;   University of La Laguna;   Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities;   Consorcio Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red, M.P.;   University Hospital of the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria;   Hospital Universitario de Canarias;   Hospital General de La Palma;   Hospital Universitario Donostia;   Hospital Doctor Jose Molina OrosaRecruiting

  • Dupilumab Asthma Sleep Study
    on August 6, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   AsthmaInterventions:   Drug: SAR231893;   Drug: PlaceboSponsors:   Sanofi;   Regeneron PharmaceuticalsRecruiting

  • Comparasion of Efficacy of Nebulized With Intravenous Magnesium Sulphate in Children With Asthma
    on August 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Asthma in ChildrenInterventions:   Drug: Nebulized Magnesium sulfate;   Drug: Intravenous magnesium sulphateSponsors:   Saima Khatoon;   King Edward Medical UniversityRecruiting

  • Asthma Research in Children and Adolescents
    on July 21, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Persistent Asthma;   Asthma in Children;   Asthma ExacerbationInterventions:   Drug: Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICs);   Drug: Fixed-Dose Combination of Inhaled Corticosteroids and Long- Acting Beta-agonist (ICs/LABA);   Drug: Other treatments;   Drug: Inhaler device;   Behavioral: Regularly monitoring of the Inhalation technique through mobile appSponsor:   Parc de Salut MarRecruiting

  • Evaluation of AZD8154 Concentrations in Blood
    on July 21, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   AsthmaInterventions:   Drug: AZD8154 nebuliser;   Drug: AZD8154 Monodose DPI presented in capsules;   Drug: AZD8154 Placebo Monodose DPI presented in capsulesSponsors:   AstraZeneca;   ParexelRecruiting

  • Intervention in Chronic Pediatric Patients and Their Families.
    on July 20, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Type 1 Diabetes;   Allergic Rhinitis;   Allergic Asthma;   Asthma;   Short Stature;   Food Allergy;   Atopic Dermatitis;   Rhinoconjunctivitis;   Cystic Fibrosis;   Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia;   Pulmonary DiseaseIntervention:   Other: Ten Vida (10Vida)Sponsors:   University of Valencia;   Hospital General Universitario de Valencia;   Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia;   Hospital Universitario La FeRecruiting

  • AQI and Childhood Asthma: an Intervention
    on July 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Asthma;   Asthma in ChildrenInterventions:   Behavioral: AQI intervention;   Other: Routine careSponsors:   University of Pittsburgh;   American Thoracic Society FoundationRecruiting

  • The Correlations of FeNO, Blood Eosinophils and Lung Function in Well-controlled Asthma
    on July 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   AsthmaIntervention:   Diagnostic Test: Patients with well controlled asthmaSponsor:   Hat Yai Medical Education CenterRecruiting

  • Bronchial Asthma and Diabetes: Impact on Bronchial Inflammation and Exercise Capacity
    on June 25, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Asthma;   Diabete Type 2Intervention:   Other: data collectionSponsors:   Istituti Clinici Scientifici Maugeri SpA;   Galmarini Hospital, TradateRecruiting

  • Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetic of Recombinant Anti-IL-5 Humanized Monoclonal Antibody Injection
    on June 24, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   add-on Maintenance Treatment of Patients With Severe Eosinophilic AsthmaInterventions:   Drug: 610;   Drug: PlaceboSponsor:   Sunshine Guojian Pharmaceutical (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Recruiting

  • Effect of Dupilumab on Aspirin Intolerance
    on June 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   AERD - Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory DiseaseIntervention:   Drug: DupilumabSponsor:   Medical University of ViennaRecruiting

Lifestyle Changes
  • Recognize what triggers your symptoms, so that you can avoid the situations or substances which can lead to an attack, or take the necessary precautions, such as premedicating, to manage or prevent your symptoms.
  • Avoid smoke inhalation and exposure to substances or chemicals with strong smells.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose excess weight. Certain food preservatives can trigger symptoms, so it is helpful to consume fresh, healthy foods.
  • Practice exercise within your limits. Physical activity helps keep asthma symptoms at bay, since it improves your aerobic capacity.
  • Keep your asthma medication with you and be prepared for acute attacks.
Tips For Friends and Family
  • Don’t discourage your loved one from enjoying physical activities and sports.
  • Don’t smoke or use strong-smelling substances around your loved one.
  • Help maintain a clean environment which is allergen-free.
  • Get flu shots to ensure herd immunity and avoid infectious diseases which could trigger acute episodes.
  • Know when to seek emergency care for your loved one.

Match to Asthma Clinical Trials

  • Access to cutting-edge treatments
  • Latest clinical trials
  • Find trials in your area