Bronchial asthma (BA) is a very common chronic disease. The persistent inflammation in the airways is accompanied by increased bronchial activity. External factors affecting the body can provoke an attack of the disease. To stop it, urgent medical attention is often required.

Complications of bronchial asthma are quite common. In the absence of adequate and timely treatment in the human body, changes begin, leading to the development of other pathologies. In this case, not only the organs involved in the breathing process suffer, but also the circulatory, nervous and even the digestive system.

Danger of bronchial asthma

Bronchial asthma is a serious illness. The patient needs serious and long-term treatment. Only by following all the instructions of the attending physician, you can achieve a significant improvement in the condition. At the same time, the number of asthma attacks decreases to a minimum, and it becomes possible to lead an almost normal lifestyle. In this case, the patient constantly has to carry medicines with him that allow to relieve an attack in case of an exacerbation of the disease.

If medical appointments are not followed and the patient is not attentive enough to his health, dangerous complications may develop. First, the disease itself begins to progress. The intervals between attacks are shorter and the attacks themselves become more severe. There comes a time when independent measures no longer help, and urgent medical attention is required to save lives.

The following types of complications become the consequences of bronchial asthma:

  1. Pulmonary – damage to the respiratory system.
  2. Extrapulmonary – metabolic disorders, heart and vascular problems, brain damage, effects on the gastrointestinal tract and other pathologies.

Pulmonary complications
Bronchial asthma can cause complications of varying severity. They are divided into:

  • sharp;
  • chronic.

Acute disorders of the respiratory system

Complications of bronchial asthma can be manifested by acute symptoms. The patient’s condition quickly becomes difficult, there are pronounced breathing problems. 

There are several possible complications:

  1. Asthmatic status.
  2. Acute respiratory failure.
  3. Spontaneous pneumothorax.
  4. Lung atelectasis.
  5. Pneumonia.

First of all, these complications are characterized by transience and pose a significant threat to life. An urgent need to seek help from a medical institution.

Asthmatic status

Patient’s life-threatening condition. The asthma attack lasts more than 30 minutes. Symptoms increase gradually. Medicines do not have any significant effect. Do not stop status asthmaticus on your own.

In this case, the formation of edema in the tissues of the bronchi and a significant accumulation of sputum are observed. All this causes suffocation and, as a result, hypoxia.

The patient remains conscious until the onset of the third, most severe, complication stage, in which consciousness fades and seizures begin. Emergency treatment involves the administration of corticosteroids and diuretics. They also prescribe medication to help sputum discharge. The third stage of the complication requires mechanical ventilation. 

Acute respiratory failure

It is diagnosed when the air supply to the lungs is almost completely stopped.

The symptoms of this complication are:

  1. breathing is rapid, shallow;
  2. strong, sometimes excruciating cough.
  3. the appearance of fear of death;
  4. gradually increasing suffocation.

Acute respiratory failure threatens the patient’s life and requires urgent medical attention. To alleviate the condition, it is required to increase the supply of oxygen to the body at any cost. To do this, apply:

  1. artificial air supply to the lungs;
  2. the introduction of hormonal drugs and diuretics;
  3. the use of bronchodilator drugs .

During an attack, most often the patient takes a posture characteristic of this pathology, aimed at alleviating the condition and improving the flow of air into the lungs. For this, the patient rests his hands on a table or other hard surface and leans forward slightly.

Spontaneous pneumothorax

A very serious complication characterized by damage to the lung tissue. As a result, air accumulates in the pleural cavity. In this case, the patient is worried about severe pain. An urgent surgery is required to remove air and restore the integrity of the lung.

Most often, this pathology occurs during prolonged and severe attacks of bronchial asthma. 

Lung atelectasis

If, during asthmatic attacks, sputum of a sufficiently dense and viscous consistency is formed, there is a risk of it blocking the lumens of the bronchi. In this case, the lung is significantly reduced in size, and collapse can develop.

The first sign of a complication is shallow breathing. Gradually the condition worsens, the patient becomes difficult to breathe, chest pain occurs. The attack is similar in symptoms to a normal attack, but the condition does not improve with conventional medications.


With pneumonia, inflammation develops in the lungs. Most often, children are susceptible to the disease. In babies, this complication is more severe and requires more careful treatment.

Against the background of reduced immunity in asthma, the addition of secondary infections is possible, which also worsens the patient’s condition.

For treatment, the doctor prescribes drug therapy:

  1. antibiotics;
  2. mucolytics ;
  3. bronchodilator drugs.

Home treatment is dangerous and requires hospitalization.

Chronic disorders

Complications in bronchial asthma can be protracted. Most often, they appear no earlier than several years after asthma is diagnosed.

These pathologies include:

  1. Hyperinflation of the lungs.
  2. Pneumosclerosis.
  3. Emphysema of the lungs.
  4. Chronical bronchitis.

These problems rarely directly threaten a person’s life. However, poor health significantly worsens the patient’s quality of life. Treatment is required.

Lung hyperinflation

With this complication, the lungs become full of air due to the fact that the patient cannot completely exhale all the air.

This leads to disruption of the lungs.


In the lung tissue, chronic inflammatory processes begin to develop, leading to a violation of its elasticity. Active sites are replaced by connective tissue.

In this case, shortness of breath, continuous cough is observed. The patient begins to lose weight. Against the background of this pathology, the development of other complications, such as cor pulmonale, is possible.

Emphysema of the lungs

A disease characterized by the expansion of the lumen of the bronchioles. The normal functioning of the lungs is disrupted, oxygen deficiency occurs.

Cough and shortness of breath appear. Emphysema is an incurable complication of asthma. But with medication it is possible to maintain the patient’s condition at a satisfactory level.

Chronical bronchitis

Asthma and bronchitis are two concomitant diseases. With bronchitis, the walls of the bronchial tree thicken. 

This significantly reduces the supply of oxygen.

Extrapulmonary complications

The consequences of bronchial asthma are manifested not only in the disruption of the lungs. Many other organs and systems may also be affected.

Most often, the disease affects:

  • cardiovascular system;
  • metabolism;
  • Central nervous system;
  • Gastrointestinal tract.

Cardiovascular disorders

First of all, the cardiovascular system reacts to the lack of oxygen. She suffers especially badly during attacks, when the air supply is severely restricted. Also, the work of the heart is influenced by drug therapy, which doctors are forced to prescribe to relieve the symptoms of bronchial asthma. 

Complications associated with the functioning of the heart and blood vessels are characterized by the following symptoms:

  1. At the time of an attack, blood pressure drops significantly. This can lead to loss of consciousness.
  2. Disturbances in the work of the heart muscle contribute to the development of myocardial infarction. Cardiac arrest is possible.
  3. Patients suffering from AD for many years have an increased risk of developing a complication called cor pulmonale. In this case, changes occur in the tissues of the heart, leading to disturbances in its work.

You should also take into account the effect of the disease on the vessels, which, due to the increased load, become weaker.

Metabolic disorders

One of the most severe complications in bronchial asthma is metabolic pathology. This is primarily reflected in the composition of the blood. Lack of potassium and oxygen with an excess of carbon dioxide is a standard clinical picture in these patients. All this causes disruptions in the functioning of the body.

The most common pathologists of metabolic disorders are:

  1. Hypokalemia . Lack of potassium in the body. Patients in this case complain of increased fatigue and insufficient performance. Arm pain and muscle cramps may occur. In advanced cases, all human organs suffer. Development of paralysis is possible.
  2. Metabolic acidosis. With this complication, the internal environment in the body begins to acidify . The patient experiences nausea, sometimes vomiting, drowsiness, changes in the rhythm of breathing. If you do not take action, arrhythmias may appear, in the most severe cases – coma.
  3. Hypercapnia. It is characterized by an excess of carbon dioxide in the blood. At the same time, the heart rate increases, the pressure rises. Arrhythmia is possible. Skin color changes and takes on a bluish tint. Headaches and various disturbances of consciousness are possible.

Almost always, complications of asthma associated with metabolic disorders are treated in a hospital setting, as they can lead to irreversible consequences for the body.

Disorders of the digestive tract

With asthma, complications associated with the work of the digestive system are not uncommon. Vital drugs, especially glucocorticosteroids , have a detrimental effect on the walls of the stomach and intestines.

The most common pathologies are:

  1. Peptic ulcer and 12 duodenal ulcer. Damage can affect either one organ of the digestive system, or both at the same time. Due to improper metabolism, the mucous membrane is destroyed. This causes long-term pain. Nausea, vomiting, and significant weight loss are possible.
  2. Perforated ulcer. If peptic ulcer disease is not treated on time, the walls of the stomach or intestines may become thinner and ruptured, with the contents of the gastrointestinal tract entering the abdominal cavity. The condition is dangerous to the patient’s life. An urgent surgical intervention is required.

When treating asthma, it is important to monitor the work of the gastrointestinal tract and provide supportive therapy.

CNS pathologies

Attacks of bronchial asthma cause severe forms of complications associated with the work of the central nervous system. Insufficient oxygen supply to the brain leads to the following disorders:

  • Respiratory encephalopathy. Brain tissue is affected. Symptoms are: headache, extraneous tinnitus, changes in sensitivity. Decrease in vision and hearing is possible.
  • Bettolepsy . Fainting associated with excruciating cough. Loss of consciousness can be both short-term and long-term.
  • Dysfunction of the brain. There are various changes associated with the work of the brain: behavioral disorders, decreased or changed sensitivity, and so on.

Such complications are always treated under the supervision of a neuropathologist.

Complications of asthma in children

Complications of bronchial asthma also occur in children. Most often, among other things, atelectasis is observed. Emphysema, diagnosed by X-ray, is also possible. If in children, in a laboratory study of mucous secretions from the bronchi, they are diagnosed not with bacterial components, but with eosinophils, this shows that the disease is not of an infectious nature, it is atopic.

If the child is not treated on time or the doctor’s recommendations are not followed, bronchiectasis may develop . It is characterized by a purulent inflammatory process in the tissues of the bronchi. Cases of pneumosclerosis have also been recorded.

The prevention of complications in children is an important part of the treatment of bronchial asthma.

Prevention of asthma complications

Complications from bronchial asthma always have serious consequences for the patient. And, like any other disease, they are easier to prevent than to cure.

First of all, it is important not to allow exacerbations of the underlying disease. For this it is recommended:

  1. Follow all doctor’s orders.
  2. If possible, eliminate the risk of contracting acute respiratory infections. For this, there is a whole range of measures related to both strengthening the immune system and personal hygiene. 
  3. Eliminate bad habits. Smoking is especially dangerous.
  4. Monitor nutrition. Foods containing allergens can trigger an attack. 
  5. Perform breathing exercises every day.

It is important to understand that by taking measures to prevent the exacerbation of the disease, you can significantly improve the quality of life, reduce the negative impact of the disease on the body and avoid serious complications.