Asthma and Its Types

Asthma and Its Types

Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell, leading to increased mucus production. This can make breathing difficult and cause coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound during exhalation), and shortness of breath.

For some people, asthma is a minor inconvenience, while for others, it can be a serious problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to life-threatening asthma attacks.

Asthma cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Since asthma often changes over time, it's important to work with your doctor to monitor your signs and symptoms and adjust treatment as necessary. Diagnosis and treatment in Switzerland can help establish the correct diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment for controlling asthma symptoms.

What is an Asthma Attack

When you breathe normally, the muscles around your airways relax, allowing air to flow easily and quietly. During an asthma attack, three things can occur:

  • Bronchospasm: Muscles around the airways contract (tighten). When they contract, your airways narrow, and air can't pass freely through the constricted airways.
  • Inflammation: The airway lining swells. Swollen airways don't allow as much air into or out of the lungs.
  • Mucus production: During an asthma attack, your body produces more mucus. This thick mucus clogs the airways.

When your airways narrow, you may produce a wheezing sound while breathing and a sound when exhaling. An asthma attack is also referred to as an exacerbation or a flare-up. It's a term used when your asthma is not under control.

What Types of Asthma Exist?

Asthma is categorized into types based on the cause and severity of symptoms. Medical professionals classify asthma as:

  • Intermittent: This type of asthma comes and goes, so you may feel normal between asthma attacks.
  • Persistent: Persistent asthma means you have symptoms most of the time. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. Medical professionals determine the severity of asthma based on how often you experience symptoms and how well you can function during an attack.

Asthma has several triggers:

  • Allergic: For some people, allergies can trigger asthma attacks. Allergens can include things like mold, pollen, and pet dander.
  • Non-allergic: External factors can also cause asthma exacerbations. Exercise, stress, illness, and weather changes can trigger asthma attacks.

Asthma can also be categorized as:

  • Adult-Onset: This type of asthma begins after the age of 18.
  • Pediatric: Pediatric asthma, also known as childhood asthma, often starts before the age of 5 and can affect infants and young children. Children may outgrow asthma, but it's essential to discuss this with your doctor before deciding if your child needs an asthma rescue inhaler. Your child's healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.

Additionally, there are other types of asthma, such as:

  • Exercise-Induced Asthma: This type is triggered by physical activity and is also known as exercise-induced bronchospasm.
  • Occupational Asthma: This type primarily occurs in people who work with irritants in their jobs.
  • Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome (ACOS): This type occurs when you have both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which obstruct breathing.