Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Types of Asthma

        Health | Asthma

After your doctor determines that you have asthma, your asthma will be classified based on how serious and frequent your asthma symptoms are. This classification will help you and your doctor work together to monitor and treat your asthma. You and your doctor will create a personal Asthma Action Plan based on how your asthma is classified. This is your life plan for managing asthma.

The Four Asthma Classifications4

The Four Asthma Classifications4

Your asthma classification can change over time depending on how well asthma symptoms are controlled. Your doctor will prescribe medicine and develop your Asthma Action Plan based on your asthma classification. These are some of the common symptoms and how they fit with different asthma classifications.

Intermittent Asthma

  • asthma symptoms two or fewer times a week
  • nighttime symptoms that wake you two or fewer times a month
  • use of short-acting beta-agonists two or fewer times a week
  • asthma symptoms do not interfere with normal activity
  • FEV1 greater than 80% predicted

Mild Persistent Asthma

  • asthma symptoms more than two times a week but not every day
  • nighttime symptoms 3 to 4 times a month
  • use of short-acting beta agonists more than 2 days per week but not every day
  • asthma symptoms cause minor limitation of normal activity
  • FEV1 greater than 80% predicted

Moderate Persistent Asthma

  • asthma symptoms daily; use of short-acting beta-agonists daily
  • nighttime symptoms more than once a week but not every night
  • asthma symptoms cause some limitation of normal activity
  • FEV1 or peak flow greater than 60% and less than 80% predicted

Severe Persistent Asthma

  • asthma symptoms throughout the day
  • nighttime symptoms, often occurring every night
  • use of short-acting beta-agonists several times a day
  • asthma symptoms cause extreme limitation of normal activity
  • FEV1 or peak flow equal to or less than 60% predicted

4National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma--Summary Report 2007. National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthsumm.htm

Written by Karen Serrano, MD

Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD

Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine

Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University

Board certified in Allergy and Immunology

Last updated June 2008


More to Explore