Asthma Basics

Asthma Basics

Inflammation of the airways and spasm of the muscles around the airways (bronchospasm) lead to asthma symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Many asthmatics experience all of these symptoms whereas others experience only one or two. If inflammation is left untreated, “airway remodeling” or scarring of the airways can occur, leading to irreversible damage.

Airway Diagrams

Normal imageMild imgModerate imageSevere image

Levels of Severity:

  1. Mild-Intermittent:
    • Daytime symptoms occuring less than twice per week.
    • Nocturnal awakening from asthma (typically between
      3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.) less than twice per month

  2. Mild-persistent:
    • Daytime symptoms twice per week.
    • Nocturnal symptoms 2 – 4 times per month

  3. Moderate-persistent:
    • Daytime symptoms daily.
    • Nocturnal symptoms more than 5 times per month

  4. Severe-persistent:
    • Continuous symptoms

Asthma is a very common condition, affecting up to 10% of the population. Over the past few decades the incidence of asthma
has been rising.