Types of Bronchial Asthma

Do you know, in what asthma types differ from each other? If you are an asthmatic, then you probably already have experienced, how terrible can asthma symptoms be such as wheezing, coughing, dyspnea, tightness in chest area. And degree of your understanding of your illness can help your doctor to determine its specific type, for example, exercise-induced asthma (asthma that exacerbates during exercise) or nocturnal asthma (asthma that violates night sleep and manifests in quite severe symptoms). Determining asthma type will help you to choose proper and most effective treatment that will prevent further attacks.

Development of asthma in some cases is preceded by pre-asthma state or period of forerunners, which is characterized by appearance of excessive watery secretions from nose, sneezing, i. e. symptoms of allergic rhinitis, then there is paroxysmal cough with elements of bronchospasm, dry or with the small amount of viscous mucus, dry wheezing and sibilant rales. At the same time there may be skin manifestations – itching and allergic rashes.


Currently, besides typical (with distinct attacks of breathlessness) asthma, there is also the so-called asymptomatic disease type. It manifests periodically in difficulties with breathing (respiratory discomfort), a variety of extra-pulmonary allergy symptoms (skin manifestations, allergic rhinitis). Thus, patients have an increased number of eosinophils in blood and sputum. With the help of special methods, patients with asymptomatic bronchial asthma type can determine violations of bronchi patency and goblet cell metaplasia of bronchial epithelium.

Allergy and Asthma: Most Common Asthma Type

Allergy and asthma rarely exist without each other. Allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) – an inflammation of nasal cavity lining – is one of the most common chronic allergic diseases. People with allergic rhinitis observe hypersensitivity (allergy) to substances that provoke body’s immune cells to produce histamine to fight with allergen. Histamine together with other substances causes allergic symptoms aggravation. Typically, the most well-known and common allergens enter the body through respiratory tract.

At allergic rhinitis there can be observed: constant runny nose, sneezing, nasal passages inflammation, mucus excess production, running eyes. Cough may appear due to constant postnasal drip. The cause of asthma symptoms worsening becomes allergic rhinitis. Your doctor may prescribe medications that allow allergy control and they can also have beneficial effect on cough and other asthma symptoms.

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Aspirin-Induced Asthma

This is bronchial asthma, clinical picture of which developed in response to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which belong to aspirin group. Often it is combined with atopic asthma, but it can also occur as an isolated form of the disease. When aspirin was synthesized and introduced into wide medical practice, descriptions of cases of aspirin asthma immediately appeared in literature. Mechanism of bronchospasm occurrence in this case is linked to metabolism of certain acids in the body. It is believed that aspirin-induced asthma development can be caused by infections. Hereditary predisposition also is not excluded.

aspirinClinically aspirin-induced asthma manifests in prolonged rhinitis, transferring into polypoid rhinosinusopathy, when nasal mucosa polyps disrupt normal nasal breathing and contribute to changes in paranasal sinuses mucosa. These changes manifest in nasal congestion and discharge, reduced sense of smell. Over time, patients have attacks of breathlessness as a reaction to aspirin and similar drugs. Bronchospasm to aspirin may occur as delayed and immediate type reactions. Severe aspirin asthma at some patients is often accompanied by skin rash of urticaria fever type, gastrointestinal disorders, rhinitis and conjunctivitis. Quite often, aspirin-induced asthma has severe course. There are many eosinophils in patients’ blood and sputum. Bronchial obstruction at such asthma is particularly long-lasting, status asthmaticus, requiring resuscitation, is quite frequently observed.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-induced asthma is a type of asthma which symptoms exacerbate only during exercise or physical load. Even people, including Olympic champions, not suffering from asthma, during intense training may acquire some asthma symptoms.

During exercise-induced asthma exacerbation, maximal airway narrowing peak occurs in five to twenty minutes after exercise beginning, making it difficult to breath. There may also be other symptoms characteristic of asthma attack, such as wheezing and coughing. Perhaps before exercise you will have to use inhaler (bronchodilator) to prevent these unpleasant symptoms occurrence. Attending physician will tell you, what and how to do.

Virus-Induced Asthma

Infections of respiratory system play a significant role in asthma development, acting as a cause and a significant factor. Uncomplicated viral infection causes structural changes in bronchial tree, disrupts normal bronchial system functioning and, consequently, induces bronchial hyperreactivity at previously healthy people. If the body already has atopic predisposition, respiratory viral infection may cause a range of allergic reactions of I and II type. The result is virus-induced asthma.

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It is believed that viral infection at previously healthy individuals can form the so-called temporary bronchial hyperreactivity, able to regress 4 – 6 weeks after recovery. During this period risk of bronchial asthma is increased. Usually at this period, patients complain of residual cough, throat irritation, increased sensitivity to cold and sharp smells, provoking cough. In most cases, this temporary bronchial hyperreactivity independently regresses, but the process can be accelerated with appropriate medicational or physiotherapy. From here you can make a practical conclusion that undertreated respiratory tract viral infection is a direct risk factor for virus-induced asthma.

Other risk factors that contribute to turning temporary bronchial hyperreactivity into virus-induced asthma are unfavorable heredity to bronchial obstruction, immune disorders of general and local character, central nervous system disorders, recurrent nasal hay fever and so on. In this case virus specifics are of great value. Normally bronchial obstruction does not develop immediately after ARVI disease, but on 3rd – 4th day or at the end of the first week. Because viruses have pronounced ability to suppress immune system, patients with virus-induced asthma often acquire exacerbations due to secondary infection. The result is mixed viral and bacterial infection.

Cough-Variant Asthma

At cough-variant asthma severe cough is the predominant symptom. This cough may have other reasons, such as postnasal drip, chronic rhinitis, sinusitis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or heartburn).

Asthma is a serious cause for cough, frequent nowadays. Cough-variant asthma is extremely difficult to diagnose and therefore difficult to treat. The most common cough-variant asthma causative agent is respiratory infection or physical exercise.

If you suffer from prolonged cough, consult your doctor. You may need to undergo specific tests that determine asthma presence, such as pulmonary function tests that show how well your lungs are working. Before you get final diagnosis – asthma (read more), you should also carefully examine lungs, consult an appropriate specialist.

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Occupational Asthma

Occupational asthma is asthma type, which pathogens exist only at your working place. Suffering from this type of asthma, you probably suffer from symptoms exacerbations from Monday till Friday, but on weekends you feel great.

Most people with this type of asthma suffer from runny nose and nasal congestion, running eyes or cough instead of usual wheezing characteristic of asthma.

Professions contributing to occupational asthma development include experts in animal breeding, farmers, hairdressers, nurses, artists, carpenters.

Nocturnal Asthma

Nocturnal asthma is one of the most common asthma types. If you have this type of asthma, most likely symptoms occur at night during sleep, which is predetermined by sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm). Nocturnal asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing and dyspnea. They are very serious, especially during sleep.

Studies have shown that majority of deaths caused by asthma occurs precisely at night. It is assumed that this may happen due to excessive exposure to allergens (asthma triggers), respiratory tract hypothermia, horizontal position of the body, or even hormonal changes that violate circadian rhythm. Sometimes asthma during night can be caused by heartburn. Sinusitis and asthma can also create serious problems during sleep, especially at postnasal drip, which causes symptoms such as coughing. Even sleep itself changes lungs and respiratory tract functioning.

If you have asthma and you notice that attack symptoms are beginning to appear in the evening, it’s time to visit doctor and find out causes of asthma worsening, so do not postpone this. Proper medical preparations and correct administration is the key point in asthma symptoms control and night sleep normalization.


Diseases with Symptoms Similar to Asthma

A variety of diseases may cause some asthma symptoms worsening. For example, cardiac asthma is a form of heart insufficiency, at which some of symptoms are similar to symptoms of common asthma.

Vocal cords dysfunction is another disease, similar to asthma. In recent years, interest to peculiar syndrome, at which vocal cords dysfunction causes wheezing, and so it is often confused with asthma, has significantly increased. It is more common among girls in the form of loud and strong wheezing, that does not respond to medication, expanding respiratory tract.