How Is Asthma Classified
Asthma is classified into four categories based upon frequency of symptoms and objective measures, such as peak flow measurements and/or spirometry results. These categories are: mild intermittent; mild persistent; moderate persistent; and severe persistent. Your physician will determine the severity and control of your asthma based on how frequently you have symptoms and on lung function tests. It is important to note that a person’s asthma symptoms can change from one category to another.
What Are The Signs Of An Asthma Flare
Asthma flare-ups can vary in strength and length. They can happen without warning, causing sudden coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Flare-ups should be treated right away. So it’s important to know their early warning signs, including:
- restless sleep or coughing that prevents sleep
- mild chest tightness or wheezing
If the flare-up is severe, a kid might:
- struggle to breathe or have fast breathing even when sitting still
- be unable to speak more than a few words at a time without pausing
- have retractions while breathing in
Because they can be life-threatening, flare-ups demand attention. Your child might need to take quick-relief medicine , visit the doctor, or even go to the hospital.
Advice For Friends And Family
It’s important that your friends and family know how to help in an emergency.
It can be useful to make copies of your personal asthma action plan and share it with others who may need to know what to do when you have an attack.
You can photocopy your existing plan, or you could download a blank personal asthma action plan from Asthma UK and fill it in for anyone who might need a copy.
Or you could take a photo of your action plan on your phone, so you can show or send it to others easily.
Page last reviewed: 19 April 2021 Next review due: 19 April 2024
A Typical Treatment Plan
A common treatment plan for a typical person with moderate asthma is:
- A preventer inhaler , taken each morning and at bedtime. This usually prevents symptoms throughout the day and night.
- A reliever inhaler may be needed now and then if breakthrough symptoms occur. For example, if symptoms flare up when you have a cough or cold.
- If exercise or sport causes symptoms then a dose of a reliever inhaler just before the exercise usually prevents symptoms.
- The dose of the preventer inhaler may need to be increased for a while if you have a cough or cold, or during the hay fever season.
- Some people may need to add in an LTRA and/or a long-acting bronchodilator if symptoms are not controlled with the above.
At first, adjusting doses of inhalers is usually done on the advice of a doctor or nurse. In time, you may agree an asthma action plan with your doctor or nurse.Â
What Are The Different Types Of Asthmatic Bronchitis
Asthmatic is the swelling of small airways inside the lung causing cough and breathlessness. Bronchial is separated into allergic and nonallergic asthma according to its respective triggers.
- Allergic asthma: Symptoms are triggered by an allergic reaction, which means that the of the affected person reacts more intensely than necessary often to a harmless substance. Allergic asthma often initially presents in early childhood and adolescence and is often due to a hereditary predisposition.
- Intrinsic asthma: Initially presents at the age of 30-40 years and is caused by different factors. Triggers may include respiratory tract infections, genetic incompatibility with certain medications, or chemical or toxic substances from the environment
- As with special forms of bronchial asthma, asthma is also prevalent in severely women. Specific characteristics also are associated with asthma in smokers.
Depending on severity:
What Are The Signs Of A Severe Asthma Attack
Asthma may lead to a medical emergency.
Rescue inhalers can help you: inhalers
Seek medical help immediately for:
- Fast breathing with chest retractions
- Cyanosis which is tissue color changes on mucus membranes and fingertips or nail beds – the color appears grayish or whitish on darker skin tones and bluish on lighter skin tones
- Rapid movement of nostrils
- Ribs or stomach moving in and out deeply and rapidly
- Expanded chest that does not deflate when you exhale
- Infants with asthma who fail to respond to or recognize parents
Vaping And Lung Damage
- Talk with your teen about the dangers of vaping.
- Vaping can cause severe lung damage. It can become permanent.
- Vaping can even cause death .
- Vaping tobacco also causes nicotine addiction.
- For these reasons, the legal age to purchase vaping products is 21 in the US.
- Encourage your teen to not start vaping or to give it up.
- Warning: home-made or street-purchased vaping solutions are the most dangerous.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
What Are The Typical Symptoms If You Have Moderate Untreated Asthma
You typically have episodes of wheezing and coughing from time to time. Sometimes you become breathless. You may have spells, sometimes long spells, without symptoms. However, you tend to be wheezy for some of the time on most days. Symptoms are often worse at night, or first thing in the morning. You may wake some nights coughing or with a tight chest. Young children may not have typical symptoms. It may be difficult to tell the difference between asthma and recurring chest infections in young children.
What Types Of Asthma Are There
Healthcare providers identify asthma as intermittent or persistent . Persistent asthma can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have attacks. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.
Asthma can be:
- Allergic: Some peoples can cause an asthma attack. Molds, pollens and other allergens can cause an attack.
- Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.
Video: Signs That Your Asthma Is Getting Worse
Transcript for Signs that your asthma is getting worse
0:00 Asthma attacks rarely happen out of the blue.
0:03 They often take a few days to build up.
0:07 Asthma is different for everybody.
0:10 By learning how to recognise when your asthma symptoms are getting worse,
0:14 itll help you to stay in control.
0:18 So, signs that your asthma is getting worse are variable.
0:23 The most common sort of signs are you may feel some wheezing,
0:26 you may have a cough, you may find a tightness in your chest.
0:32 If you keep a peak flow diary, you may find that your peak flow scores are reducing a bit.
0:45 If your symptoms continue to be worse and youre using your blue inhaler a lot,
0:56 especially if youre not sure what to do next.
0:59 We can discuss whats been going on with you
1:01 and make a plan for a way forward.
1:05 If you are using your preventer inhaler as prescribed,
1:09 every day, even when youre well and using really good inhaler technique,
1:14 and despite this, your asthma symptoms are getting worse,
1:18 its a good idea to see your GP.
Adult action plan
Using an asthma action plan will help you to stay well. Download and fill in with your GP.
What Can You Do If Your Child Has Been Diagnosed With Asthma
If your child has just been diagnosed with asthma, know that you are not alone. Asthma Canada and your healthcare team have many available to you.
- Start by learning as much as you can about the . Work closely with your childs healthcare provider to monitor your childs asthma symptoms. Ask questions and clarify any information you are unsure about.
- Reach out to Asthma Canadas FREE Asthma & Allergy HelpLine to speak with a Certified Respiratory Educator.
- Begin keeping a diary to keep track of what non-allergic affect your childs asthma. This will help you identify your childs triggers, and develop strategies to avoid them.
- Learn all you can about your childs . This includes possible side effects of medication and the appropriate technique for administering medication.
- Ask you healthcare provider about developing a Kids Asthma Action Plan. And Asthma Action Plan monitors asthma symptoms and has a written plan to follow when symptoms change.
- Join Asthma Canadas membership alliance to connect with other Canadians living with asthma or impacted by asthma.
Asthma Exacerbations Can Last A Week Or Longer
November 13, 2011
November 13, 2011 Episodes of asthma worsening, when symptoms become more severe or frequent, commonly last for a week or more and can seriously affect a patient’s quality of life, according to a study presented in a poster session here at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting.
Patients can also experience worsening of several symptoms at once, Michael Blaiss, MD, from the University of Tennessee at Memphis, told Medscape Medical News.
Dr. Blaiss and his team conducted the Asthma Insight and Management survey to examine the reported duration of episodes with asthma symptoms that were frequent or severe.
The survey is the sequel to the Asthma in America study, which was done more than a decade ago.
Dr. Michael Blaiss
“We wanted to know what has happened as far as asthma management in patients since that survey was done. We also added some new questions to get a better idea of how asthma was affecting the adult and adolescent population,” Dr. Blaiss explained.
AIM quizzed 2500 asthma patients 12 years and older about duration of episodes with asthma symptoms that were frequent or severe. The participants were interviewed from July to September 2009.
Dr. Blaiss said he found it striking that patients reported a variety of symptoms.
Physicians often think that an asthma flare up will last 1 or 2 days and then be gone, but this survey shows that is not true, he added.
Managing Your Asthma Flare
Am Fam Physician. 1998 Jul 1;58:109-113.
See related article on .
To keep your asthma under control, you need to know what to do when you have a flare-up of symptoms . First, you need to know the symptoms that tell you your asthma is getting worse . Second, you need to know how to treat your asthma when it gets worse. Early treatment of flare-ups works the best and will help get your asthma under control quickly.
Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack
Signs that you may be having an asthma attack include:
- your symptoms are getting worse
- your reliever inhaler is not helping
- you’re too breathless to speak, eat or sleep
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you cannot catch your breath
- your peak flow score is lower than normal
- children may also complain of a tummy or chest ache
The symptoms will not necessarily occur suddenly. In fact, they often come on slowly over a few hours or days.
How Do I Know If My Infant Or Child Has Severe Asthma
If you are concerned that your infant or childs asthma may be severe, observe their behavior for the indicators below and speak to your healthcare provider right away.
Observe your infant for any of the following indicators of Severe Asthma:
- Sits up, refuses to lie down
- Stops feeding
- Pale or bluish-looking skin anywhere
- Rapid breathing
- Using accessory muscles of breathing-in, drawing of muscles at the neck when breathing it may look like the skin is being tugged in. If you see this, your child must be assessed by a healthcare provider.
Observe your child for any of the following indicators of Severe Asthma:
- Pale looking or bluish looking skin- anywhere
- Peak flow less than 50% of personal best
- Using accessory muscles of breathing-in, drawing of muscles at the neck when breathing it may look like the skin is being tugged in. If you see this, your child must be assessed by a healthcare provider.
How Common Is Chest Pain In People With Asthma
Chest pain or tightness is common in people with asthma. In one emergency department survey, 76 percent of people with asthma reported chest pain.
Chest pain is known as a subjective symptom. A subjective symptom is one that doctors cant measure. Instead, they must rely on a description of the pain.
This symptom is usually one of many that someone with asthma experiences. However, a published in 2013 suggested that chest tightness may be the only symptom for some people with asthma.
I Know People With Asthma Use Inhalers But What Does The Inhaler Do
Metered dose inhalers are portable, handheld devices that are like mini-aerosol cans. Sticking with the straw analogy, they help to unsqueeze the straw when the breathing tubes constrict during an asthma flare-up. The inhaler has a small plastic tube which releases the medicine in a mist that relaxes the airways so theyre not constricted. It is important to use a spacer when using an MDI. Without a spacer, much of the medication is swallowed and does not reach the lungs where it is needed. A spacer is a plastic tube that holds the mist in between the MDI and the childs mouth.
Some inhalers are dry powder inhalers, which dont spray out the medicine but, instead, deliver it in powder form. Kids who use this kind of inhaler must do more of the work, inhaling the powdered medicine quickly and forcefully .
Diagnosing Asthma In Young Children
Healthcare providers are often reluctant to give a diagnosis of asthma to infants and very young children because children often cough and wheeze with colds, chest infections like bronchitis, and other conditions responsible for asthma-like symptoms.
Since there is no diagnostic test available for children younger than six years of age, making a diagnosis in this age group is more difficult than in older children. Over the age of about six it is possible for a child to have a spirometry test. This is a simple test that measures a childs airflow through the large and small airways. Results reveal if the childs airflow can be improved with medication. Reversibility of airway obstruction is a key feature of asthma. If administering a bronchodilator reverses airway narrowing significantly, the diagnosis is probably asthma.
Prevention And Management Of Severe Asthma
Alongside taking your medication as prescribed, the best way to reduce the risk of severe asthma attacks and worsening symptoms is to avoid triggers as much as possible.
As part of your asthma management plan, its important to monitor your severe asthma symptoms. Its useful to keep a written record of your symptoms, when they occur and any triggers that may be involved. For example, your symptoms might be triggered by environmental factors, such as seasonal pollen. For women, a change in hormone levels may make things worse.
Further information: webinars and learning modules
Side Effects Of Relievers And Preventers
Relievers are a safe and effective medicine, and have few side effects as long as they are not used too much. The main side effects include a mild shaking of the hands , and muscle cramps. These usually only happen with high doses of reliever inhaler and usually only last for a few minutes.
Preventers are very safe at usual doses, although they can cause a range of side effects at high doses, especially with long-term use.
Using a spacer can help prevent these side effects, as can rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after using your preventer inhaler.
Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep side effects to a minimum.
Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including asthma. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.
Can You Have Asthma And Bronchitis At The Same Time
People with asthma can also have acute bronchitis. They may notice their asthma symptoms become worse as a consequence. They may experience:
- shortness of breath
- pain and discomfort when breathing
Sometimes, people with severe bronchitis and asthma may have to go to the hospital because mucus has clogged the airways into their lungs so much.
Moderate Persistent Asthma: Step 3
Doctors also use long-term daily medication to treat moderate asthma that persists over long periods. These medications are often different from those that treat milder forms of asthma.
For moderate persistent asthma, doctors prefer to use either:
- a combination of a low-dose ICS and a long-acting beta agonist
- a medium-dose ICS
Alternative therapies include a low-dose ICS along with an LTRA or, less commonly, theophylline.
In addition, a person can use a SABA inhaler when needed to relieve symptoms.
What Are The Dosages Of Treatment
Everyone is different. The correct dose of a preventer inhaler is the lowest dose that prevents symptoms. A doctor may prescribe a high dose of a preventer inhaler at first, to ‘get on top of symptoms’ quickly. When symptoms have gone, the dose may then be reduced by a little every few weeks. The aim is to find the lowest regular dose that keeps symptoms away.
Some people with asthma put up with symptoms. They may think that it is normal still to have some symptoms even when they are on treatment. A common example is a night-time cough which can cause disturbed sleep. But, if this occurs and your symptoms are not fully controlled, tell your doctor or nurse. Symptoms can often be prevented – for example, by adjusting the dose of your preventer inhaler, or by adding in a long-acting bronchodilator.
Uncontrolled Asthma Vs Severe Asthma: How To Get The Right Diagnosis
- Lung Health and Diseases
More than 25 million Americans struggle with asthma, a chronic condition that makes breathing difficult. Whether you have lived with asthma since childhood or developed it later in life, it is important to monitor your symptoms and avoid your triggers to manage the disease. Many times, regular flare-ups can be treated with a combination of quick-relief and controller medications. Unfortunately, this may not be enough to get your symptoms under control.
If you feel asthma is interfering with your life, it can be frustrating to know what to do next. This is when it may be time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of severe asthma.
Daily symptoms, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, are signs of uncontrolled asthma and may require the use of quick-relief medication a few times a week or even daily. In addition, you may commonly experience nighttime flare-ups and may even have to visit the emergency room. As you might expect, with these symptoms you may miss work, stop exercising, and have difficulty performing daily tasks. If you have signs of uncontrolled asthma as listed above, you will want to discuss this with you physician because you may be able to find a solution.
But what if you continue to struggle?
Lifestyle Changes To Help Severe Asthma
As well as medication, there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise routine. If youre taking long-term high doses of oral corticosteroids, they can increase appetite and cause weight gain. It can be difficult to manage your weight with severe asthma, as your symptoms may make exercise more difficult, and you may lack energy and motivation if youre feeling unwell. But even by making small changes to your diet and activity levels, you can make a difference.
- Quit smoking. is a major risk factor for asthma attacks, as well as being associated with numerous other health problems. If you smoke and have asthma, you should try to quit. Seek help from your doctor, nurse or a smoking cessation group to help make the change.
- Do breathing exercises. Regularly practising breathing exercises can be beneficial as they help to improve lung capacity, strength and health. There are various methods suitable for asthmatics, some of which are taught by experts or physiotherapists, and theyre easy to learn and practice at home.
- Reduce your stress levels. To reduce stress which can be a key trigger for asthma incorporating yoga, meditation or mindfulness practice into your lifestyle may be helpful.
Useful treatment tools
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
- Don’t have written asthma action plan from your doctor
- Use an inhaler, but don’t have a spacer
- Miss more than 1 day of school per month for asthma
- Asthma limits exercise or sports
- Asthma attacks wake child up from sleep
- Use more than 1 inhaler per month
- No asthma check-up in more than 1 year
- You have other questions or concerns
Evaluating Shortness Of Breath
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may evaluate your shortness of breath by using pulse oximetry to estimate the amount of oxygen in your blood, an EKG, a chest x-ray, blood work, or pulmonary function tests.
Its important to note that while you may suffer from COPD or asthma, your symptoms can still be managed and allow you to lead a normal life with the right health care team working with you.
Asthma Symptoms: 5 Signs Your Shortness Of Breath Is Serious
If you suffer from shortness of breath, youre not alone. Its a common symptom and one that prompts many people to see a doctor or seek other medical treatment. Knowing when your shortness of breath is an emergency isnt always easy. It can be the result of hyperventilation, acid reflux, or a panic attack cases when shortness of breath usually recedes on its own or more serious issues involving your respiratory health. There are many possible causes of shortness of breath, as well as signs that its time to seek medical help.
New Or Ongoing Symptoms
Some people are experiencing a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Unlike some of the other types of post-COVID conditions that only tend to occur in people who have had severe illness, these symptoms can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the illness was mild, or if they had no initial symptoms. People commonly report experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Change in smell or taste
- Changes in period cycles