Types of asthma and what triggers them

Diagnosing asthma is important to treat symptoms and ensure that emergencies are avoided. There are several types of asthma and knowing which one you have can help manage symptoms. According to Asthma+Lung, UK, here are the different types of asthma and their causes:

allergic asthma – Allergic or atopic asthma is classified according to triggers such as pets, pollens and house dust mites. It is the most common type of asthma and around 80% of those affected have a related condition such as hay fever, eczema or food allergies.

Seasonal asthma – When asthma flare-ups occur at certain times of the year, such as during hay fever season or winter, they are categorized as seasonal asthma. Although asthma is a chronic condition, people with seasonal asthma may not see symptoms except during these times.

Occupational asthma – This type of asthma is categorized by the occurrence of symptoms due to the work you do. You could have occupational asthma if your asthma symptoms started in adulthood and improve on days you don’t work. Usually occupational asthma is a type of allergic asthma and something you work with may be a trigger for your symptoms.


Non-allergic asthma – This is the type of asthma that doesn’t really have an allergy trigger. The less common type has no well-explained causes and usually develops later in life. It is often more serious than other types of asthma and the symptoms can only be managed by talking to your GP.

Exercise-induced asthma – The name of this type of asthma is almost self-explanatory. Caused by exercise, people usually have asthma-like symptoms but go undiagnosed. It is also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) and is mostly seen in elite athletes or people who engage in strenuous exercise in cold conditions.

Difficult asthma – Some people with asthma have “difficult asthma”. The name is given to it because of the difficulty in managing asthma symptoms due to other health conditions present alongside asthma. Symptoms involve frequent flare-ups, symptoms of unresponsiveness to rescue inhalers, and the need to use the rescue inhaler much more than usual.

Severe asthma – Diagnosed in 4% of adults, severe asthma is categorized by severe symptoms that do not improve with standard medications. People with severe asthma need to take long-term steroids to control airway inflammation. Sometimes doctors also use the term fragile asthma to describe it.

childhood asthma – Asthma affects around 6% of all children in India and some of them find that the condition improves or disappears altogether by the time they are adults. These children suffer from what is called “childhood asthma”.

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