Asthma causes your lungs and their airways to become inflamed and narrow and this triggers breathing difficulties. This chronic respiratory illness afflicts 339 million people around the world and claims 1000 lives every day. This common and serious disorder prompted extensive research into the nature of the illness, which has revealed that there are several types of asthma. Diagnosing the correct form of this disorder ensures that you get the appropriate treatment.
What are the types of asthma?
Here is all you need to know about the types for asthma-
1. Childhood asthma
If a child is born premature, then the baby could contract asthma. The lungs do not develop completely and special treatment such as being put on ventilation to aid with breathing.
- Triggers of childhood asthma-
- Catching a cold, flu, sinus infections or pneumonia.
- Exposure to allergens like dust, mould, cockroach excreta, fur or feathers from pets.
- Coming into contact with irritants such as chemicals, pollutants, smoke, perfume spray.
- Stress or anxiety over exams and assignments.
2. Adult-onset asthma
Even if you did not show any symptoms of asthma in your childhood, you can develop this disorder later in life. Unlike asthma in children, this disorder can be more grave in adults. The symptoms are more persistent and not easy to control. Asthma can also be fatal for adults.
Asthma happens to adults chiefly because of being exposed to harmful substances for long periods. Allergies too are responsible for adult-onset asthma.
3. Allergic asthma
There exists a link between asthma and allergies. But, research is ongoing to understand the relation between the two. Not everyone prone to allergies gets asthma. But very often, an asthma attack is preceded by a severe allergic reaction. Allergens such as pollens from flowers, dust particles, particulate matter present in the air can first trigger an allergy, which then progresses to an asthma attack.
4. Non-allergic asthma
This kind of asthma results from exposure to irritants and substances that do not provoke your immunity system to react to foreign bodies by producing antibodies. Objects like dust, pollutants, chemicals or a change in temperature or humidity can prompt the symptoms of asthma.
5. Exercise-induced asthma
Asthma attacks can come after a bout of exercise or any strenuous physical activity. This is called Exercise-induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB). This happens when there is a temperature change in your lungs or a loss of fluids triggered by exercise. You may begin to notice the symptoms of asthma within 3 or 4 minutes after starting your exercise routine and they may continue up to 15 minutes after you finish. The symptoms can be worse in people who are out of shape. Moreover, if you exercise when the pollution level has shot up, or there is too much chlorine in the water where you are swimming, then your asthma could act up.
6. Occupational asthma
It is one of the commonest types of asthma. Something you are exposed to at your place of work can irritate your already sensitive airways to cause the symptoms of asthma to show up. People who breathe in industrial fumes, odor from chemicals, spices in spice packaging factories, wood shavings, paint particles, or cleaning products for protracted periods can be a victim of asthma. Here are some professions where people are at risk-
- Manufacturers of drugs
- Manufacturers of detergents
- People who produce objects made of plastic
7. Overlap of asthma & chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a blanket term for a number of illnesses that affect the lungs and trigger breathing issues by obstructing the flow of air to and from the lungs. Asthma and COPD are not the same and an individual who has contracted one may not contract the other. However, there are instances when a person has been diagnosed with both asthma and COPD. This disorder is called Asthma COPD overlap Syndrome or ACOS.
ACOS comprises the same symptoms as regular asthma but if not kept under check with medication, it can be lethal.
8. Bronchial asthma
This is the commonest type of asthma. Bronchial asthma is just another term for asthma. And you get this disorder when your bronchial tubes get constricted because of accumulation of mucus.
9. Nocturnal asthma
Also called night-time asthma, this is another prevalent type of this disorder. People who have contracted nocturnal asthma witness the symptoms usually at night. Certain factors such as the airways cooling down once you settle in for the night, a reclining position that constricts the bronchial tubes, a change in your hormone secretion triggered by your circadian rhythm or heartburn in the aftermath of dinner can lead to an asthma attack.
It has been observed that most of the fatalities caused by asthma happen at night. So the people who have night-time asthma need to be extra cautious.
10. Seasonal asthma
People with this kind of asthma suffer flare-ups only during certain times of the year such as during spring when pollen floats about in the air, or winter when temperature plummets and a person contracts a head cold. Most people who have been diagnosed with seasonal asthma do not witness the symptoms during the rest of the year.
11. Difficult asthma
The symptoms of difficult asthma refuse to subside even when you take your medicines regularly. You may have to use an inhaler 3 or 4 times a week or resort to oral steroids a few times every year.
12. Severe asthma
A very small percentage (nearly 4%) of all people who have asthma are diagnosed with severe asthma. This kind of asthma does not respond well to medication. They need special kind of medicines called biologics to manage their symptoms.
Many different types of asthma are triggered by different factors. Once you identify your type, you can handle the symptoms and keep asthma in check with proper measures.