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Glossary - Respiratory Area

Acari: small parasites of the spider family present on various animals; the species Dermatophagoides pteronissinus is the acarus present in household dust, and is the cause of many respiratory allergies.
Acute bronchitis: inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the bronchi. Generally caused by viruses.
Allergens: substances which provoke allergies and which provoke asthma crises, conjunctivitis, rhinitis, dermatitis etc. when they come into contact with the organism.
Aspecific bronchial hyperactivity: increase in bronchial response to various types of stimulus due to alteration of bronchial tone, with broncho-obstructive response (usually these stimuli do not provoke lung obstruction in the healthy subject).
Asthma: respiratory disease characterised by attacks of breathlessness, wheezing, coughs and bronchial secretions.
Atopia: synonym of allergy; predisposition to produce specific igE in response to environmental allergens; the most important predisposing factor for asthma.
Atopic or allergic asthma: particular form of seasonal asthma in which the attacks are triggered by the inhalation of substances towards which the subject is allergic (e.g. pollens, dusts, animal dandruff etc.).

Bronchial provocation test: test to study bronchial reactivity to aspecific or specific stimuli.
Bronchial reactivity: capacity of the bronchial wall to react to various types of stimuli.
Bronchospasm: spastic contraction of bronchial smooth muscle, with reduced air transit.

Chronic bronchitis: "chronic" condition of the respiratory tract, characterised by coughing with excessive mucous production. The causes are closely related to cigarette smoke, atmospheric pollution etc.

Dyspnea: breathing difficulty, sensation of lack of air; manifested with an increase in breathing rate and modification of breathing characteristics.

Haemogas analysis: particular method of blood sampling from an artery or capillary which allows assay of the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other substances; useful for monitoring the evolution of some respiratory diseases and the need for oxygen therapy.

Intrinsic asthma: non-allergic, non-seasonal form of asthma which tends to be persistent. The asthma attacks are triggered by various factors such as: cold air, smoke, dust, paint vapours etc.

PEF: Peak Expiratory Flow. Reduced in the case of bronchial obstruction. Since it is simple to measure it is a parameter used for the home monitoring of respiratory function.
Prick Test: skin test for rapid identification of allergy towards single allergens.

Spacer: accessory available in various shapes and sizes used to help the administration of drugs via spray cans. This device reduces the need to coordinate drug delivery with breath intake and facilitates administration to under-fives.
Specific bronchial hyper-reactivity: increase in bronchial reactivity in response to a specific substance.
Spyrometry or Respiratory Function Tests: evaluation of lung ventilatory capacity by means of an instrument known as a "spyrometer".

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