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Know Your Kind: 5 Types Of Asthma Based On Frequency, Cause, & The Severity Of Symptoms
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  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    Asthma is a major noncommunicable disease that affects both children and adults globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the Philippines alone, there is an estimated 11 million people who suffer from various types of asthma, yet based on the Global Asthma Report, roughly 98 percent of those sufferers continue to lack proper treatment.

    What you should know about asthma

    Considering its global prevalance, a lot has to be learned about the disease that is described as "a chronic (meaning, long-term) condition that affects the airways in the lungs" by the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

    In a webinar organized by the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), its resource person, Dr. Paul Rilhelm M. Evangelista, gave a comprehensive talk. It included possible causes of asthma, signs, triggers, treatment, and prevention.

    The specialist in pulmonology medicine and interventional pulmonology mentioned studies showing that chronic inflammation causes the occurence of asthma symptoms, such as:

    • Wheezing
    • Cough
    • Breathlessness
    • Chest tightness

    Dr. Evangelista said the symptoms happen when your bronchial tubes or airways become hyper irritable or very sensitive and they then get inflammed to the point of constriction.

    He explained that when your airways come in contact with triggers, they become easily swollen and inflamed. This inflammation causes narrowed airways and trapped air. It can be reversed when given treatment. Thus the asthma formula: Irritable airways + Triggers = Inflammation.

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    One way to test if you have asthma is through the spirometry, upon your doctor's recommendation. He will also assess your condition and help identify the triggers to your asthma attacks.

    Types of asthma

    Cases of asthma come in many forms and the disease itself can be broken down into types based on the frequency, cause, and the severity of symptoms, according to Cleveland Clinic.

    Frequency of attack

    1.Intermittent

    This type of asthma occurs at irregular intervals, and when it does, it's not continuous or steady.

    2. Persistent

    You have persistent or chronic asthma if you experience symptoms much of the time and for a prolonged period. But the symptoms can vary, from mild to moderate or severe.

    Based on cause or causes

    1. Allergic

    Exposure to specific allergens can cause an asthma attack to some people, underscoring the connection between allergy and asthma. Common asthma triggers include animal dander, house dust mites, and inhaled allergens (pollen, weed).

    2. Non-allergic

    Asthma flare-ups can also be due to outside factors that do not cause allergies. These include exercise, stress, weather changes, and illnesses, particularly respiratory tract infection.

    Based on age

    1. Adult-onset

    You have this type of asthma if you start having an attack after the age of 18.

    2. Pediatric

    This is also called childhood asthma because it generally begins before the age of 5, though it can also occur in infants and toddlers. Many children outgrow this respiratory disease, that's why experts advise parents to discuss with their doctors about treatment or management.

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    Specific types

    1. Seasonal

    This means asthma flare ups only happens at certain times of the year, such as during hay fever season, or when it’s cold.

    2. Exercise-induced asthma

    This type of asthma induced by exercise is also also called excercise-induced bronchospasm, according to experts from the American Lung Association (ALC). They add that you don't have to let asthma hold you back from being active, mentioning that many Olympians and professional athletes have asthma.

    3. Occupational asthma

    The workplace is an important source of respirable exposures that can cause or trigger an occupational asthma. It is the most common work-related respiratory disorder, but oftentimes, it is undected. In fact, according to experts, an estimated 10 to 25 percent of patients suffer from this type of asthma.

    4. Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS)

    If you have both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma exacerbation also happens because both diseases cause difficult in breathing.

    Severity of symptoms

    1. Difficult

    You have a difficult asthma if:

    • Your symptoms don't go away, though you're already on high doses of asthma medicines and add- on treatments
    • You need to use your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, which is one of the warning signs of an asthma attack
    • You experience frequent asthma attacks

    2. Severe

    Watch out for these signs that you may have severe asthma:

    • Having more than two asthma attacks in a year
    • Symptoms persist even with the use of higher doses of inhaled steroids and a long-acting bronchodilator or a preventer tablet (LTRA)
    • Using the blue reliever inhaler three or more times a week
    • Rule out of other reasons for your symptoms that's been made by your doctor or specialist
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    Experts recommend knowing and undestanding the types of asthma, so that you'll also get the right treatment. Just make sure to always consult your doctor.

    Read here on what you need to know about asthma attacks.

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