What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways (bronchi). Bronchi generally allow for the passage of air in and out of the lungs. In asthma, these airways develop hypersensitivity, inflammation, and narrowing. This causes difficulty in breathing. In the United States, approximately 26 million adults and 7 million children are affected by asthma.
Asthma can be classified into four types based on the severity of the disease, which includes:
Mild intermittent asthma
The typical characteristics of this type are:
- Symptoms are mild that occur less than twice a week
- Nighttime symptoms occur less than twice a month
- Few asthma attacks occur
Mild persistent asthma
The typical characteristics of this type are:
- Symptoms occur three to six times a week
- Nighttime symptoms occur three to four times a month
- Asthma attacks may affect activities
Moderate persistent asthma
The typical characteristics of this type of asthma are similar to those of mild persistent asthma.
Severe persistent asthma
In this type of asthma, the symptoms worsen continuously resulting in limitation of activities.
What is the main cause of asthma?
Several factors may cause asthma. Based on the triggers that cause an asthma episode, asthma can be classified as:
- Exercise-induced asthma: Exercise can worsen the symptoms of asthma. Simple exercise may exacerbate the symptoms in people with highly inflamed airways.
- Nocturnal asthma: Aggravation of asthma at night is common in people with nocturnal asthma.
- Occupational asthma: Exposure to dirt, chemicals, and irritants in the workplace can induce asthma.
- Steroid-resistant asthma: Some severe cases of asthma may not respond to steroid therapy (steroid resistance).
- Allergic asthma: Allergens such as pollen, mite, dust, mold, latex, and pets can trigger asthma in some people.
- Nonallergic asthma: Extreme weather, stress, and infections such as sinusitis, colds, and the flu could be some of the trigger factors that induce nonallergic asthma.
- Aspirin-induced asthma: Aspirin may induce asthma symptoms in some people.
- Eosinophilic asthma: High levels of white blood cells called eosinophils can cause this type of asthma.
Asthma may also be triggered by
What are the symptoms of asthma?
Recognizing the symptoms early and treating it is of utmost importance. The three major signs of asthma are airway obstruction, inflamed airways, and sensitive airways.
Early warning signs of asthma, which occur before an episode, include:
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Throat itching
- Feeling tired
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Mood swings
- Breathing changes
- Less tolerance for exercise
An asthma episode, also known as an asthma attack or asthma flare-up, is characterized by
When to consult a doctor for asthma?
If any of the below severe asthma symptoms occur, seek emergency medical treatment immediately:
- Severe coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness
- Fast or slow breathing
- Cyanosis (blue-colored or pale face, lips or fingernails)
- Difficulty walking
- Hunched shoulders
- Difficulty speaking or concentrating
- Retraction (ribs or stomach that move inwards while breathing)
- Rapid movement of nostrils
How is asthma treated?
There is no cure for asthma, however, asthma symptoms can be managed by lifestyle modifications and treatment.
Asthma treatment includes:
- Inhaled corticosteroids,
- Leukotriene modifiers,
- Short-acting beta-agonists and
These are usually in the form of inhaler pumps and nebulizers.
Asthma symptoms can be managed by bringing some lifestyle modifications:
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid asthma triggers
- Stay fit and healthy
- Practicing yoga may help to control symptoms
With timely treatment and management, asthma symptoms can be controlled and complications can be prevented.
Latest Asthma News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Are the Four Types of Asthma Related Articles
Asthma Attack SlidesAsthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, headache, fatigue, dark circles under the eyes, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite. Learn asthma signs and symptoms in adults and kids so you can follow your asthma action plan and know when to seek medical care for an asthma emergency.
Asthma ComplexitiesThere are many unusual symptoms of asthma, including sighing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, chronic cough, recurrent walking pneumonia, and rapid breathing. These symptoms may vary from individual to individual. These asthma complexities make it difficult to accurately diagnose and treat asthma.
Asthma MedicationsThere are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators. Asthma medicines may be inhaled using a metered-dose inhaler or nebulizer or they may be taken orally. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, or heart disease shouldn't take OTC asthma drugs like Primatene Mist and Bronkaid.
Asthma Myths SlideshowThere is currently no cure for asthma, and no specific, single cause for asthma has been identified. Take this quiz on asthma myths to test your asthma IQ and take an active role in your own health.
AsthmaAsthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Causes of asthma include genetics, environmental factors, personal history of allergies, and other factors. Asthma is diagnosed by a physician based on a patient's family history and results from lung function tests and other exams. Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long-acting bronchodilators (LABAs) are used in the treatment of asthma. Generally, the prognosis for a patient with asthma is good. Exposure to allergens found on farms may protect against asthma symptoms.
Asthma SlideshowWhat is asthma? Learn information about asthma, a chronic disease of the bronchiole tubes. Discover information about asthma attacks, complications of asthma, and how to control an asthma attack.
Asthma QuizAsthma is a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs, which can be managed with proper treatment. Triggered by two main causes, asthma symptoms can be brought on by environmental factors and surprising allergens.
Asthma: Over the Counter TreatmentPatients who have infrequent, mild bouts of asthma attacks may use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat their asthma symptoms. OTC asthma medicines are limited to epinephrine and ephedrine. These OTC drugs are best used with the guidance of a physician, as there may be side effects and the drugs may not be very effective.
COPD vs. Asthma (Differences and Similarities)COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma both have common symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. COPD is caused by tobacco smoking, while asthma is caused by your inherited genetic makeup and their interactions with the environment. Risk factors for asthma are obesity, exposure to cigarette smoke (even secondhand smoke), and personal history of hay fever. There is no cure for either disease, but symptoms can be managed with medication. A person with asthma has a better prognosis and life expectancy than someone with COPD.
Natural Ways to Ease Asthma SymptomsYou can do more than take medication to manage your asthma. Several other things can help you breathe more easily.
Nebulizer for AsthmaAsthma nebulizers, or breathing machines, convert liquid medication into mist for easy inhalation.
What Are the Three Types of Asthma?Asthma is a long-term medical condition that causes breathing difficulties due to airway narrowing, airway swelling, and excessive mucus production in the airway. The common types of asthma include nocturnal asthma, exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, allergic asthma/seasonal asthma, as well as occupational asthma and cough variant asthma.
What Drugs Are Used in Rapid Sequence Intubation?Rapid sequence intubation (RSI) is the administration of a strong anesthetic agent followed by a rapidly acting paralytic agent (all within one minute) to make the patient unconscious. Drugs used in rapid sequence intubation (RSI) include potent anesthetic agents (propofol, ketamine, etc.), muscle relaxants or paralytic agents, and pharmacological adjuncts (fentanyl, lidocaine, etc.).
What Is an Eucapnic Hyperventilation (EVH) Test?Eucapnic voluntary hyperventilation (EVH) is a provocative test to diagnose exercise-induced airway narrowing (exercise-induced bronchospasm). Eucapnic voluntary hyperventilation (EVH) is usually done for individuals in occupations in which asthma needs to be excluded, professional athletes, and young active-duty soldiers in the military.
What Is Barotrauma in Mechanical Ventilation?Barotrauma is a condition in which the alveoli (air sacs of the lungs) rupture with a subsequent entry of air into the surrounding extra alveolar space. Barotrauma mainly occurs either due to the rupture of the air sacs (alveolus) of lungs or a direct injury. Alveolar rupture can be either ventilator-related or disease-related. Ventilator-related causes include Positive pressure ventilation and Elevated pressure. Disease-related causes include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic interstitial lung disease, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.