Asthma is a condition that impacts your airways and makes breathing difficult. The condition requires immediate treatment as untreated asthma can be serious, even fatal. Moderate asthma is fairly simple to diagnose and treat. However, severe asthma requires additional testing in order to effectively manage the condition. Below you will find a helpful guide to severe asthma.
Guide to Severe Asthma
Severe asthma can be overwhelming and difficult to manage without an effective treatment plan. Among the 25 million people who have asthma in the United States, up to 10% have severe asthma. It’s important to talk with an asthma doctor in New York City to determine if your asthma is severe. They can test you to determine if you have severe asthma. After a proper diagnosis they can create a treatment plan that works for you.
Uncontrolled vs Severe Asthma
Understanding whether you have uncontrolled or severe asthma can be difficult to determine on your own. Working with a skilled asthma doctor can help you determine which one you have so you can effectively treat it.
Uncontrolled asthma revolves around the frequency of symptoms. As such, uncontrolled asthma includes the following symptoms. If you experience three or more of these symptoms, it’s likely that you have uncontrolled asthma.
- Daytime asthma symptoms that occur more than twice a week, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, and a cough
- Waking up at night with asthma symptoms more than twice a month
- Using quick-relief medicine for symptoms more than twice a week
- Limiting your activities due to your asthma symptoms
Severe asthma is divided into three categories, including allergic asthma, eosinophilic asthma, and non-eosinophilic asthma.
This ends up caused by exposure to allergens, including pollen, pet dander, or mold. The allergen triggers the body’s immune system which results in the production of immunoglobulin E (“IgE”). IgE is an antibody that attaches to certain cells and causes them to release certain chemicals that result in an allergic reaction. Symptoms include itchy/watery eyes, sneezing, increased airway sensitivity, and anaphylaxis in severe cases.
Eosinophilic asthma is defined by having an increase in eosinophils. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cells that help fight off disease and infection. People with this type of asthma have too many eosinophils which can cause inflammation in their airways, in addition to other unwanted asthma symptoms. This can prove caused by:
- A parasitic disease
- Reaction to certain medications
- Or even the result of an allergic reaction
There are two types of non-eosinophilic asthma, non-eosinophilic asthma and neutrophilic asthma. Non-eosinophilic asthma includes neurophilic, smooth-muscle, mediated, and missed cells. Still, those with severe asthma in this subgroup have little to no eosinophils in their test results and do not respond well to certain allergy medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids.
Alternatively, neutrophilic asthma is characterized by having too many neutrophils, a common white blood cell that helps fight infections. This can cause inflammation in the airways, in addition to other unwanted asthma symptoms. This type of severe asthma is associated with chronic infections, obesity, smoking, and airway smooth muscle abnormalities.
Severe Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment
Working with an asthma specialist is essential in order to get a proper diagnosis. To get a proper diagnosis, an allergy doctor will review your medical history, your current asthma treatment plan (if you have one), and perform a physical examination. If any of this indicates that you may have severe asthma, additional testing may be necessary. Biomarker testing can help determine which type of severe asthma that you have.
Treatment varies depending on the type of severe asthma you have. One of the most effective treatments for moderate to advanced asthma is biologics asthma treatment in New York City. An allergy specialist can include this in your treatment plan to ensure your asthma is effectively managed.