Asthma Attack: Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

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Asthma is a persistent respiratory disease that causes the inside walls of the bronchial tubes to become swollen and inflamed. It is a chronic disease that affects people of all ages, sizes, colours.


The common signs are wheezing and a rattling sound in the chest. Often, Asthma starts in childhood but can also develop in adults. Sometimes one can outgrow Asthma in the adult stage, but it is not always the case.


Globally, approximately 235 million people are living with Asthma, according to the World Health Organization Global report 2018. About 250,000 asthma-related deaths are reported annually, with 80 per cent of fatalities happening in lower and middle-lower economic countries. Deaths in developing countries are high due to the lack of modern health facilities and poor government policies handling the scourge.

According to Medscape, the prevalence of asthma increases in young people and very old persons due to responsiveness and lower levels of lung function. The Medscape report indicates that two-thirds of all asthma cases are diagnosed before the patient is 18, and Canada, Australia, England and New Zealand, among other industrialized countries, have a prevalence rate between 2-10 per cent. 


The trigger factors are urbanization, air pollution, environmental allergens and passive smoking.

Classification of Asthma

Medical experts classified Asthma based on severity and symptoms. However, the classification may change over time, and a person in any category can experience severe asthma attacks.

1. Mild intermittent Asthma

It occurs less than two times a week, and nighttime symptoms also happen less than two times a month. Here attacks do not interfere with daily activities.

2. Mild persistent Asthma

Symptoms occur 3 to 6 times a week, and nighttime symptoms appear 3 to 4 times a month. Attacks interfere with daily activities.

3. Moderate Persistent Asthma

Symptoms occur daily; daily activities are interfered with, and nighttime symptoms appear more than once a week.

4. Severe persistent Asthma

There are often nighttime symptoms and daily symptoms. Daily activities are severely affected.

Types of Asthma

There are numerous types of Asthma caused by many different triggers.

1. Occupational Asthma

This type of Asthma develops in adulthood. The nature of one’s job can play a vital role in the cause of Occupational Asthma. For instance, if you work in chemical industries, dust and chemical odour is likely to trigger the symptoms.

2. Allergic Asthma

Pollen, pets and dust mites cause allergic Asthma.

3. Non-allergic Asthma

Extreme weather or stress can cause non-allergic Asthma. It also occurs due to coldness.

4. Seasonal Asthma

This increases during a certain period of the year, such as during winter or summer.

5. Status asthmaticus

Status asthmaticus is prolonged Asthma, which is resistant to treatment

6. Adult-onset asthma

This type affects an individual at any age, but it is common in people under age 40.

7. Eosinophilic Asthma

Eosinophilic Asthma is also called nighttime Asthma. Individuals who have nighttime Asthma are likely to have symptoms during sleep because Asthma is triggered by the circadian cycle, sleep-wake cycle. Many research findings show that most deaths related to Asthma occur at night due to exposure to allergens, hormone secretion, cooling of the airways and reclining position.

8. Aspirin-induced Asthma (AIA)

Aspirin-induced Asthma occurs when a person with Asthma takes in aspirin.


Common symptoms of Asthma include:

(i) Airway irritability

The airways of an individual suffering from Asthma tend to overreact and narrow due to even the slightest triggers.

(ii) Inflammation

As a result of inflammation, bronchial tubes get swollen and become red, exposing lungs to damage.

(iii) Airways obstruction

When you have Asthma, the bands of muscle surrounding your airways tighten, and the air cannot move freely. When there is less air in your lungs, there is shortness of breath and the air moving out via your tightened airways causes wheezing.

 Asthma triggers and causes

Asthma triggers can be individual; it varies from one person to another. They include strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter, crying, tobacco smoke, air pollution, medication such as aspirin, exercise, an infection like cold and changes to the weather.


If your child shows asthma symptoms, see a doctor who will refer you to a pulmonologist, asthma specialist who will subject you to asthma tests.


Generally, Asthma is not curable, but treatment can help control symptoms.

(a) Inhaled corticosteroids

These medications are used every day to keep Asthma under control. They prevent swelling inside your airways and cut mucus production. One uses an inhaler to get the medicine into his or her lung.

(b) Leukotriene modifiers

This medication makes leukotriene, the substance that triggers asthma attacks, dormant.

(c) Long-acting beta-agonist

Also known as bronchodilators. It relaxes the muscle bands that surround the airways.

(d) Theophylline

It opens up your airways and eases tighten in your chest.

Although Asthma can be deadly, proper diagnoses, treatment, and adequate preventive measures can keep the sickness at bay. 

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