Types, causes, treatment, and diagnosis of asthma

A persistent illness that affects the airways is asthma. Breathing issues and wheezing are brought on by it. Asthma comes in a variety of forms, including childhood, adult-onset, seasonal, and work-related asthma.

The bronchial tubes, or the inner walls of the airways, become enlarged and inflamed as a result of asthma.

The muscles around the airways constrict during an asthma attack, making it challenging for air to enter and exit the lungs.

In the United States, the prevalence of asthma was 7.8% in 2019. This condition comes in many different forms, and a number of things can either induce it or provoke an acute attack.

This page examines the different forms, causes, and symptoms of asthma as well as how asthma is diagnosed by a physician.

Describe asthma.

A chronic illness that affects the airways is asthma. It causes swelling and constriction inside the lungs, which limits airflow.

A person with asthma may go through the following:

chest constriction




increased production of mucous

When asthma symptoms worsen, an attack happens. Attacks can start off quickly and can be anything from minor to fatal.

Sometimes, airway edema might block oxygen from getting to the lungs. As a result, oxygen is unable to enter the bloodstream or reach important organs. Therefore, those who exhibit severe symptoms require immediate medical care.

A doctor can suggest appropriate therapies and give recommendations on how to effectively treat asthma symptoms.



Although asthma can arise for a variety of causes and in a variety of ways, the triggers are frequently the same. They may fall under a number of broad categories, including:

irritants, such as pollen and dander

irritants like pesticides and smoke


further health issues


certain medicines

intense feelings

The following sections go over a few typical forms of asthma:

infantile asthma

The most prevalent chronic illness in kids is asthma. Although it can appear at any age, children tend to develop it slightly more frequently than adults do.

In 2019, youngsters between the ages of 12 and 14 were most likely to develop asthma. 10.8% of people in this age groupTrusted Source were impacted by the ailment. Children aged 5 to 14 had the second-highest prevalence, with an average of 9.1%.

In the same year, 8% of those 18 and older got asthma.

The American Lung Association (ALA) lists the following as some typical asthma triggers for kids:

colds and respiratory illnesses

cigarette smoke, including smoke from other people’s cigarettes


both indoor and outdoor air contaminants, such as ozone and particle pollution

exposure to the cold

unexpected temperature swings




If a child develops asthma, it is imperative to seek medical care right once since it can be fatal. One of the greatest approaches to control the problem might be suggested by a doctor.

As the child ages, their asthma may in some situations get better. But for a lot of folks, it’s a chronic condition.

onset in adults

Any age, even as an adult, can experience the onset of asthma.

Adult onset of asthma is influenced by a number of factors, including dependable source

a respiratory infection

exposure to allergens and allergies

hormonal influences




Here is more information on adult-onset asthma.

Workplace asthma

Exposure to an allergen or irritant present in the workplace leads to occupational asthma. About 1 in 6 occurrences of adult-onset asthma have a work-related origin.

Furthermore, 21% of working adults who have asthma report that their symptoms get worse at work. Workplaces that are both indoor and outdoor can expose a person to asthma triggers.

severe and difficult-to-control asthma

According to a 2014 study, 5–10% of asthmatics may have severe asthma.

Some people get severe symptoms for reasons unrelated to asthma. They might not have learnt how to use an inhaler properly, for instance.

Others suffer from severe, resistant asthma. Even with high pharmaceutical dosages or the proper use of inhalers, the asthma in certain situations does not respond to treatment. 3.6% of asthmatics may have this kind of the disease.

Another form of asthma that, in more severe cases, may not respond to standard treatments is eosinophilic asthma. While some persons with eosinophilic asthma can control their symptoms with over-the-counter asthma drugs, others may benefit from certain biologic treatments.

The amount of eosinophils, a type of blood cell implicated in an allergic reaction that can cause asthma, is decreased by one type of biologic drug.

Here is more information on severe asthma.

Wintertime asthma

This type of asthma is brought on by seasonal allergens that are only present in the environment during specific seasons of the year.

For instance, pollen in the spring or summer or chilly air in the winter can cause seasonal asthma symptoms.

Seasonal asthma sufferers continue to have the ailment during the remainder of the year, but they typically do not exhibit symptoms.

However, allergies are not necessarily the cause of asthma.

causes and precipitants

The actual cause of asthma is unknown, however genetic and environmental factors both appear to have important contributors.

Sensitization to an allergen is one example of a factor that can serve as both a cause and a trigger. Other causes and triggers are listed in the sections below:


A 2020 study found that smoking during pregnancy may raise the likelihood that the fetus may grow up with asthma. Additionally, some women find that when pregnant, their asthma symptoms worsen.


based on a 2018 studyAccording to a reliable source, obesity increases both the risk of and the severity of asthma in both children and adults.

A person who is obese may have worse symptoms more frequently, a lower quality of life. Additionally, they could not react well to treatments.


When a person’s body develops sensitive to a particular substance, allergies might form. Once a sensitization has taken place, a reaction to the drug could occur every time the person comes into contact with it.

The most prevalent form of asthma is allergic asthma. Inhaling an allergen usually triggers an asthmatic’s symptoms.

smoking cigarettes

The ALA claims that smoking cigarettes can aggravate asthma symptoms.

Additionally, exposure to secondhand smoke can harm the lungs. This may lessen a patient’s reaction to therapy and constrict lung airflow.

external variables

Both indoor and outdoor air pollution might have an impact on asthma development and triggers.

Among the allergens in the home are:



animal dander and hair

fumes from paint and household cleaners



Other causes, both indoors and outside, include:


air pollution from various sources, such as traffic

ozone at ground level.


Asthma symptoms can be triggered by stress as well as by a number of other emotions. An asthma attack can also be brought on by other emotional states such as happiness, rage, excitement, laughter, and so on.

Some proofAccording to a reliable source, there may be a connection between asthma and some mental health issues like sadness and anxiety.

other studiesChronic asthma may develop as a result of long-term stress, according to research from a reliable source.

genetic influences

The ALA asserts that a person’s lifelong risk of developing asthma may be influenced by genetics.

A person is more likely than others to get asthma if one or both of their parents have the ailment.

hormonal influences

Asthma is present in 9.8% of women and 6.1% of men, respectively. Additionally, symptoms might change based on a person’s menstrual cycle and when going through changes like menopause.

For instance, during the reproductive years, a woman’s symptoms could go worse during her period compared to other times of the month since progesterone and estrogen levels are lower. Perimenstrual asthma is the term used by doctors.

Hormones and asthma have a complicated interaction that varies from person to person. Lowered hormone levels brought on by menopause may exacerbate asthma symptoms or even lead to the development of asthma in certain persons. On the other side, some people could discover that their asthma symptoms get better after menopause.

Immune function may be impacted by hormonal action as well, leading to airway hypersensitivity. People with intermittent asthma could also only occasionally experience symptoms.

Find out more information on sporadic asthma here.

Visit our specialized area to learn more about evidence-based tools and information for coping with allergies and asthma.

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A patient’s symptoms, family and personal medical history, and test findings are frequently taken into consideration by a doctor.

The type of asthma a patient has will be identified by the triggers they are exposed to at the time of diagnosis

To assist the doctor in making a precise diagnosis, it may be beneficial for a patient to keep a journal of their symptoms and potential triggers. This ought to contain details on potential irritants at home, work, or school.

The parts that follow go over some further examinations a physician might perform to identify asthma:

inspection of the body

The upper respiratory system, the chest, and the skin will certainly receive the doctor’s attention. They’ll probably listen for wheezing, which can signal asthma and an airway obstruction.

They could also look for:

running nose

enlarged nasal passageways

whether there are any growths inside the nose

Additionally, they will look for hives or eczema on the skin.

allergy testing

To determine how well the lungs are functioning, the doctor could do a lung function test.

The most typical lung function test used by medical practitioners to identify asthma is the spirometry test.

It will be necessary to inhale deeply before forcingfully exhaling through a tube. The tube connects to a device called a spirometer, which displays the rate of air expulsion from the lungs.

Additional tests

Additional diagnostic procedures include:

Challenge test: Using this test, a clinician can determine how breathing is impacted by triggers like cold air, exercise, or inhaled drugs.

Testing for allergies: A physician may do a skin or blood test to look for a reaction.

Blood test: A doctor may advise a blood test to look for high eosinophils and immunoglobulin E, an antibody that patients with allergic asthma’s immune systems produce.

In addition to other tests to rule out other illnesses, a doctor may also request a FeNo test.


Asthma treatment choices are expanding and getting better. Treatment’s objective is to:

assist someone in breathing easier

decrease the amount of assaults

expand the range of things kids can do

The best course of treatment for an individual should be developed in collaboration with a healthcare practitioner. Medication for immediate relief and long-term management are two current therapy options.

When used regularly, long-term control medication lowers the frequency of attacks while quick-relief drugs aid with symptoms.

Current asthma medicines include:

bronchodilators that ease airway muscles both long- and short-term

antibiotics for bacterial bronchitis or pneumonia

Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as oral steroids for a sudden attack or inhaled corticosteroids for long-term maintenance

a mixture of corticosteroids and bronchodilators


The ALA advises everyone with asthma, including those with activity-induced bronchoconstriction (also known as exercise-induced asthma), to engage in regular exercise. Regular exercise offers many health advantages, including enhancing lung capacity and function generally.

A person should speak to a doctor about which exercises are appropriate for them before beginning a new workout regimen. It’s conceivable that the physician will advise a patient to refrain from particular activities.

Otherwise, if an individual takes steps to control their asthma with drugs, they can typically engage in sports, exercise, and other strenuous activities.

Other ideas for a person to attempt for safe and efficient exercise include:

protecting their lips and nose when exercising in the cold

Make sure they warm up properly first

after that, take some time to properly chill down

avoiding outside activities when the air quality is bad

A person should stop working out and take a fast-acting inhaler if they ever feel pain. They should see a doctor if their symptoms worsen.


A persistent inflammatory disease called asthma enlarges the airways. Any age group might be affected, and the symptoms can be moderate to severe.

A person with asthma can typically lead a full and active life with the aid of effective therapy.


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