Asthma is a long-term disease of the lungs.

Asthma causes your airways to get inflamed and narrow, and it makes it hard to breathe. It can cause trouble talking or being active. You might hear your doctor call it a chronic respiratory disease.

Did you know that there are many forms of it out there? 


It a breathing condition where the airways you breathe through tighten when you inhale an allergen. Common allergens include pollen, dander and mold spores. This type is very common in both children and adults.

Non Allergic

Also called Non-atopic, is a type that isn’t related to an allergy trigger like pollen or dust. The causes are not well understood, but it often develops later in life, and can be more severe.

Cough Variant Asthma (CVA)

CVA is a form of it, which presents solely with cough. CVA is one of the most common causes of chronic cough. More importantly, 30 to 40% of adult patients with CVA, unless adequately treated, may progress to classic.

Other Forms

Taken from the Asthma Australia:

  • Acute.

    It is often used in a clinical or emergency context to refer to an flare-up when you are experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, tight chest, wheeze, or cough. 

  • Adult-onset

    People can be diagnosed with it at any age. It is not only a condition that is diagnosed in childhood. Adult-onset is a term sometimes used to refer to people who are diagnosed.


  • Allergic and non-allergic

    Some people may be diagnosed with allergic, which means their symptoms are caused by allergens (or triggers) such as pollen, dust, food chemicals, and mould. It is more likely if you also have an allergy. We know that up to 80% of people that have it which is also have allergies, learn more here.  

  • Asthma-COPD overlap

    COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. It is a term for a group of progressive lung conditions including bronchitis and emphysema. Some people, particularly older adults, show features of both COPD – this is referred to as the asthma-COPD overlap. It is more likely in current smokers or people with a smoking history and those over the age of 55. Your doctor may prescribe you different or additional medications.


  • Chronic

    It is chronic (long-term) condition that affects the airways in the lungs. Sometimes this term is used to refer to a type of COPD, in this case you may be treated according to guidelines for COPD overlap. 


  • Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction

    Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB) (previously called Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA), is a temporary narrowing of the lower airways, occurring after vigorous exercise. It may occur in people with or without it. In people with asthma who experience EIB, exercise is a trigger. This means that for some people during vigorous exercise the small airways in the lungs become red, swollen, and may become blocked with mucus. This narrows the airways and makes it more difficult to breathe. Not everybody that has it has EIB and some people with EIB may not have it. Find out more here.

  • Occupational

    It refers to new-onset of it, which is caused by workplace triggers such as chemicals, animal proteins, fumes, gases, dust, etc.


  • Work-exacerbated

    It is when your asthma control worsens due to workplace triggers such as chemicals, animal proteins, fumes, etc.


  • Bronchial.

    In which is another common form is a pattern of periodic attacks of wheezing alternating with periods of quite normal breathing. However, some people with bronchial alternate between chronic (long-term) shortness of breath and episodes in which they feel even more breathless than usual.


  • Nocturnal.

    It is when your symptoms worsen at night, possibly caused by triggers such as dust, dust mites, pet dander from mattresses, bedding, soft toys, or cold air at night time, etc. Itcan also be from heartburn or your sleep cycle. 


  • Reactive airways

    People with reactive airway disease have bronchial tubes that overreact to some sort of irritant. The term is mostly used to describe a person who is wheezing or having a bronchial spasm, but who has not yet been diagnosed with it.


  • Seasonal

    When your asthma flares up due to seasonal triggersFor example, if you are only triggered by pollens in spring or colds and flu which are more present in winter months. If you have none of its symptoms at all during other parts of the year, your doctor may prescribe a preventer medicine only to be taken daily during (and in the lead up to) these seasons. 


  • Viral.

    When your primary trigger is having a virus such as a cold, upper respiratory tract infection or influenza.


  • Thunderstorm

    You may have heard about thunderstorm after the 2016 Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma Event – during which, 10 people sadly lost their lives. Thunderstorm refers to the phenomenon where large numbers of people experience asthma symptoms triggered by an uncommon combination of high grass pollen levels and a certain type of thunderstorm.  Read more about thunderstorm asthma here.


  • Diagnosed ‘Severe

     People with severe asthma experience the same symptoms as people with mild to moderate asthma, however, Its symptoms may be more intense or occur more often.  Less than 4% of adults with asthma have severe asthma. Learn more about severe asthma here.

  • Difficult to treat:

     It is defined as asthma that remains uncontrolled despite continual high-dose treatment. People with severe asthma are a subgroup of those with difficult-to-treatbut not all patients with difficult-to-treat asthma have severe asthma.


  • Refractory or “treatment-resistant”

    Refractory means “stubborn” or “unmanageable” and these terms are sometimes used to describe severe asthma. However, the introduction of monoclonal antibody therapies has demonstrated that significant improvements can be seen in asthma that was previously termed ‘refractory’.


  • Brittle.

    This term is another term sometimes used for severe asthma.”


  • Silent:

     This term is sometimes used to describe people with asthma who do not tend to wheeze. It is not necessary to have an audible wheeze to be diagnosed with it. Click here for more from Asthma Australia 


Most people with asthma should be able to gain and maintain good control. Good asthma control means having all of the following:  

  • Symptoms no more than twice per week 
  • Need for reliever medication no more than twice per week  
  • No night-time asthma symptoms 
  • No symptoms on waking 
  • No need for reliever medication 
  • No restriction of day-to-day activities 
  • No days off school or work due to asthma 
  • No attacks or flare-ups 


  • It is more common in adult women than adult men.
  • It is the leading chronic disease in children.
  • Currently, there are about 5.1 million children under the age of 18 who have it.

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