Types of Asthma
Respiratory health Data Verified

Types of Asthma

Written by
Dr. Geethika. B
and medically reviewed by Dr. Anjali

Published on May 13, 2022 and last reviewed on Aug 29, 2022   -  6 min read


Asthma is a medical condition that causes difficulty breathing due to narrowing and swelling of the airways. Read the article to learn about the types of asthma.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition in which the airways become narrow and swell, causing extra mucus to be produced, leading to difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing when exhaling, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Asthma is a mild inconvenience for some people. For others, it can be a major issue that disrupts daily activities and may result in a serious asthma attack. Because asthma frequently changes over time, it is critical that the patient collaborates with their doctor to monitor the signs and symptoms and adjust their treatment. Although there is no cure for asthma, one can improve the condition by managing the symptoms.

Who Is More Prone to Developing Asthma?

There are several factors that are thought to increase a person's chances of developing asthma.

They are as follows:

  • Having an asthmatic blood relative, such as a parent or sibling.

  • Having an allergic condition like atopic dermatitis that causes red and itchy skin or hay fever, which causes a runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes.

  • Obesity.

  • Being a smoker and being exposed to secondhand smoke.

  • Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution.

  • Occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in agriculture, hairdressing, and manufacturing.

  • Genetic factors.

What Are the Different Types of Asthma?

Different types of asthma include:

Cough Variant Asthma (CVA):

The most common complaint for which people seek medical help is cough. The primary symptom of cough variant asthma is a dry and unproductive cough. If not treated adequately 30 % to 40 % of adult patients with cough variant asthma may progress to classic asthma. The features of CVA are similar to that of classic asthma and may include:

  • Airway hyperresponsiveness.

  • Atopy.

  • Various airway remodeling features.

  • Eosinophilic airway inflammation.

Inhaled corticosteroids continue to be the most important form of CVA treatment because they improve cough and reduce the risk of progression to classic asthma, most likely by preventing airway remodeling and chronic airflow obstruction.

Depending on whether an allergy is a cause, asthma is of two types:

Allergic Asthma:

Allergic or atopic asthma is caused by pollen, pets, and dust mites. Approximately 80 % of people with allergic asthma also have a related condition such as hay eczema, fever, or food allergies. If a person has allergic asthma, their doctor will most likely prescribe a preventer inhaler every day and a reliever inhaler to use when they experience asthma symptoms. It is also critical to stay away from asthma triggers as much as possible.

Non-Allergic Asthma:

Non-allergic asthma, also known as non-atopic asthma, is less common than allergic asthma because it is not caused by an allergy trigger such as pollen or dust. Instead, the causes are unknown, but it frequently manifests later in life and can be more severe.

Depending on the triggering factor asthma can be:

Occupational Asthma:

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are more than 250 substances known or suspected of causing or exacerbating asthma, and the people working in various industries and occupations in the United States are exposed to it. Chemicals used in manufacturing, paints, cleaning products, dust from wood, grain, flour, latex gloves, certain molds, animals, and insects can all be triggers. Existing allergies or asthma, a family history of allergies, and cigarette smoking are risk factors for developing occupational asthma.

The following workers, according to the National Institutes of Health, are at a higher risk of developing occupational asthma:

  • Bakers.

  • Manufacturers of detergents.

  • Pharmaceutical companies.

  • Farmers.

  • Employees of grain elevators.

  • Workers in a laboratory (especially those working with laboratory animals).

  • Workers in the metal industry.

  • Employees of Millers Plastics.

  • Woodworkers.

Seasonal Asthma:

Certain people have asthma that only exacerbates at certain times of the year, based on the season. While asthma is always a chronic condition, it can be symptom-free when the triggers are removed. If a person has seasonal asthma, they should consult with their doctor to learn about the best ways to manage it.

Exercise-Induced Asthma:

Some people who have never been diagnosed with asthma experience asthma-like symptoms triggered solely by exercise. This is commonly referred to as "exercise-induced asthma," but a better term is "exercise-induced bronchoconstriction" (EIB). This is because asthma does not cause tightening and narrowing airways (bronchoconstriction). Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction affects elite athletes or people performing strenuous exercise in extremely.

If a person does not have asthma but is experiencing symptoms such as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing, or fatigue while exercising, they must see their doctor so they may advise any of the following:

  • Performing a spirometry test will assess lung function. Spirometry tests performed before and after an exercise test can reveal whether the patient has exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

  • Perform some physical challenge tests. This is usually done on a treadmill or other equipment to see how the airways react to exercise.

  • Give treatments to help with the symptoms so the patients can keep exercising safely. This may be a reliever medication to take right before the patient exercises.

  • If a patient needs to take their pre-exercise reliever medications daily to prevent symptoms from occurring or three or more times per week to relieve symptoms, they should reconsider their treatment options.

Depending on the age of onset, asthma can be:

Adult-Onset Asthma:

Asthma typically begins in childhood, but some people are diagnosed with asthma for the first time as adults. This is referred to as adult-onset or late-onset asthma. Adult-onset asthma can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Occupational asthma accounts for 9 % to 15 % of adult-onset asthma.

  • Tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

  • Obesity, although the link is not obvious.

  • Female hormones have been linked to adult-onset asthma and may be one of the reasons women are more likely than men to develop it.

  • Stressful life events.

Childhood Asthma:

The majority of children with asthma have symptoms before the age of five. In infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, the bronchial tubes, which are the passageways that allow air to enter and exit the lungs, are small and narrow. Inflammation of these airways, caused by head colds, chest colds, and other illnesses, can make them even smaller. When it comes to very young children, it can be difficult for parents and even doctors to tell when symptoms are caused by asthma. Childhood asthma symptoms can range from a persistent cough that lasts for days or weeks to sudden and frightening breathing emergencies.

Severe Asthma:

Severe asthma affects approximately 4 % of people with asthma. A person is more likely to be diagnosed with severe asthma if :

  • They have had more than two asthma attacks in the previous year.

  • They have persistent symptoms despite taking higher doses of inhaled steroids and trying a long-acting bronchodilator or a preventer tablet (LTRA).

  • They use the blue reliever inhaler at least three times per week.

  • The doctor or specialist has ruled out any other causes of the symptoms.

If a person has severe asthma, they might need different asthma medicines, for example, long-term steroid tablets to reduce inflammation in the airways. In addition, some people with severe asthma are treated with a new class of medicines called biologics. These can help to control the asthma symptoms better and reduce asthma attacks.


Educating oneself about the condition is essential in managing the symptoms of a person who has asthma. Everyone who has asthma should have a treatment plan created in collaboration with the doctor, and it should outline the steps one must take in the event of an asthma attack. Because even mild asthma has the potential to worsen, individuals should adhere to their doctor's treatment plan and have regular checkups.

Last reviewed at:
29 Aug 2022  -  6 min read


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