Asthma is a chronic lung condition that inflames and narrows the large and small airways of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. When you breathe, air enters the
lungs through the large airways before moving into the small airways. While inflammation is usually a defense mechanism for the body, it can be harmful if it occurs at
the wrong time or lingers. When the inner linings of the small and large airways become inflamed, they can become constricted and blocked with mucus. As a result, there is
less room for air to move through.
Asthma severity can be classified by four levels:
Asthma is not one size fits all. The severity of asthma varies from person to person. While some people may experience occasional mild
asthma symptoms that respond well to a "quick-relief" inhaler, others with more persistent asthma may
need daily maintenance treatments to control their symptoms.
Your doctor will determine the severity of your asthma based on a number of factors, including how often you have symptoms or use your rescue inhaler, how much
trouble you have with daily activities due to asthma, and the results of a lung function test called spirometry. Spirometry measures how much and how fast you can
inhale and exhale. Spirometry results are given as a percentage of FEV1, and a higher percentage indicates better lung function.
Regardless of the severity of your asthma, it’s important to remember that asthma inflammation is always present, whether you or your child is experiencing symptoms or not.
||Mild Persistent Asthma
||Moderate Persistent Asthma
||Severe Persistent Asthma
|Daytime asthma symptoms
||2 + Days/Week
||Throughout the day
|Waking up due to asthma
||1 + Nights/Week
|Needing a rescue inhaler
||2 + Days/Week
||Multiple times per Day
|Trouble with daily activities due to asthma
|Lung function tests
||Normal (100%) FEV1
||80-100% of FEV1
||60-80% of FEV1
||<60% of FEV1
Incidence of Asthma
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), asthma affects approximately 25 million Americans and is one of the most common long-term diseases of children.
However, many adults suffer from asthma too.
Genetics play a role in developing asthma. When you talk with your doctor, he or she may ask if anyone else in your family suffers from asthma. A child is more likely to
be diagnosed with asthma if one or both parents have asthma.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for asthma, but asthma can be controlled with regular monitoring,
proper treatment and by avoiding "asthma triggers." It's important to work closely with your doctor to regularly assess
control and determine appropriate treatment options, as symptoms and disease severity vary for each person.