Symptoms of atopic asthma often disappear around puberty. The authors recently demonstrated that this clinical remission is accompanied with ongoing airways inflammation in most subjects. The discrepancy between lack of symptoms and persistent airway inflammation suggests that perception of the symptoms is unclear. In the present study, young adults in clinical remission of atopic asthma assigned themselves a modified Borg score during methacholine and adenosine-5'-monophosphate induced bronchoconstriction. Borg scores of subjects in clinical remission were compared with those of symptomatic asthmatic subjects. A marked variation in the Borg scores at a 20% fall in the forced expiratory volume in one second was found. Significant differences in Borg scores between remission patients and asthmatics could not be detected. It was concluded that perception of dyspnoea, induced with methacholine and adenosine challenge, is similar in young adults in clinical remission of atopic asthma compared to that of patients with symptomatic asthma. Hence, an unclear perception seems to be an unlikely explanation for the discrepancy between lack of symptoms and ongoing inflammation. Other factors, including both physical and psychological ones, may play a role in the apparent absence of symptoms, thereby potentially leading to undertreatment.

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van den Toorn, L.M, Overbeek, S.E, Prins, J-B, Hoogsteden, H.C, & de Jongste, J.C. (2002). Dyspnoea perception during clinical remission of atopic asthma. The European Respiratory Journal. Retrieved from