Defining asthma severity

Hi another question for my friend whose asthma just increased in severity.

How do members of this community define moderate to severe asthma, what are the symptoms and life style changes that come with each level

Thank u for any that help xx


Comments 12

  • Brenda Silvia-Torma

    Hello AKFHEALTH, Technically, the definitions for the various types of asthma are as follows:

    Intermittent Asthma — You have symptoms less than twice a week and wake up less than two nights a month. Mild Persistent Asthma — You have symptoms two or more days a week and wake up three to four nights a month. Moderate Persistent Asthma — You have symptoms at least every day and wake up one or more nights a week. Severe Persistent Asthma — You have symptoms during the day and wake up every night due to asthma.

    Here is a good place to start:

      Others will chime in about their own experiences with lifestyle and symptom changes.

      Welcome to the forums!!

    • LK

      Welcome, AKFHEALTH!    

      Sorry to hear your friend is having trouble with asthma.  I was diagnosed with adult onset, cough-variant, severe persistent asthma almost six years ago by my primary care physician.  After the medicines he prescribed for me did not help he referred me to a pulmonary specialist.  Over these years I have been on different asthma medicines.  Some do help and some do not seem to help me.  Last fall I was doing pretty well, for me, and I caught an upper respiratory cold which caused me to have a prolonged asthma flare.  I had to repeatedly see my pulmonary doctor and was switched to different medicines to see what would help me breathe better.  It took a good part of six months for my breathing to improve enough to get back to anywhere near what it was before the flare.

      Is your friend currently under the care of a pulmonary specialist or allergist?  Has he/she been dealing with asthma for years or is it a new diagnosis?  It has taken me so long to learn to avoid my triggers and take the precautions I have to take in order to not have an asthma flare.  Still learning, too!

      Hope your friend is breathing better soon!

    • afkhealth

      hi @LK thanks so much for your quick reply. She has had mild asthma for a few years and she has been seeing her Primary care doctor.  but recently I guess she has had a flare and I am worried about her.  The medicines form her doctor aren't really giving her enough relief and I wasn't sure if I should recommend a pulmonologist to her or an asthma doctor ?  How do you decide which to go to?

    • K8sMom2002

      Hi, and welcome, AFKHealth! You sound like a great friend! It's friends like you who help us get through our rough days.

      Allergists and pulmonologists can both treat asthma. An allergist has an added advantage — allergists specialize in allergic triggers, and they can help address allergic asthma. 

      Pulmonologists are great, too. I've worked with both — my mom had a pulmonologist who saved her life, and he really understood her lungs. My DD's asthma is treated by an allergist.

      Here's a quick video of how an allergist can help patients with asthma.

    • LK

      Yes, a flare can be scary.  You are a good friend to look into things that can help her.  It can take new medicines 3-4 weeks before there are signs of improvement.  Several medicines that I have been on are like that.  The wait to see if they are helping can feel like an eternity.  

      That said, sometimes there are other things that the doctor can prescribe to help in the interim while waiting to see if the meds do actually help.  Does she have a rescue inhaler and or a nebulizer?  I always carry my rescue inhaler and also have a nebulizer for times when my rescue inhaler just isn't helping be breathe better.  These would be prescribed by her doctor.

      For me,  I asked for a referral from my primary care doctor to pulmonary physician.  He specializes in lung diseases such as asthma.  I also asked for a referral to an allergist since asthma may be caused by allergies, too.  I found that I also have allergic asthma – I am allergic to dust mites.  

      I may be ignorant in this area, but I do not know of a doctor designation of "asthma" doctor.  The ones I know are either pulmonary physicians or allergists.

      If you have a referral, in my experience, you are more likely to get an appointment sooner than if you do not have a referral from another doctor.  

    • LK

      Someone else posted this link elsewhere on these forums and I have given it to family and friends.  It is an interesting read and may help you.


    • LK
      K8sMom2002 posted:

      Hi, and welcome, AFKHealth! You sound like a great friend! It's friends like you who help us get through our rough days.



      So very true, Cynthia!!!  We all need help on our rough days!!  

    • afkhealth

      Thank you guys! I hope I can be there for her, reading this website has helped me better understand what she is going through.  She has a rescue inhaler and has an appt with her primary care doctor Wednesday.  I will tell her to get a referral when she goes.  Are there any specific medications you recommend (or don't) that she should bring up?  


      Thank you both for your help!

    • LK

      The medications all depend on her specific type of asthma and her overall health so I am not in a position to recommend any medicines.  The only universal medicine that all of us as asthmatics seem to be on is one that would be used in a nebulizer which, for me, gets the medicine deeper into the lungs than a rescue inhaler.  The specific medicine in the nebulizer would depend on her specific medical history and her asthma.  A question best left to her doctor.   

      My nebulizer medicine is the same one, for the most part, that is in my rescue inhaler.  The nebulizer just makes it easier to breathe in more deeply into my lungs.

      You may already know this but thought I should mention it anyway.  A nebulizer is a machine that turns the liquid medicine into a fine mist so you can breathe it in more deeply into your lungs and it opens up your airways.  

      Glad she has an appointment soon.  Please let us know how you and she are doing!

    • Pljohns

      I would make sure she gets and asthma action plan also so she knows what to do when her asthma give her issues.  

    • LK

      This is the one on the AAFA website.  It is specific to each patient.  The patient and the doctor fill it out and it gives specific instructions on how to manage one's asthma.  The Green, Yellow and Red zones are very helpful when trying to know what to do.

      At the bottom of this link is a link to download a free copy of the plan.