(Last Updated On: June 27, 2023)

What Are the Types of Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease where the airways become inflamed and narrow, making it difficult to breathe. There are several different types of asthma, including allergic, non-allergic, exercise-induced, cough-variant, occupational, nocturnal, and severe.

An image of hands holding a cut out of lungs for asthma

Allergic Asthma

Allergic asthma is triggered by exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and animal dander. When someone with allergic asthma comes into contact with an allergen, their immune system overreacts and releases chemicals that cause inflammation in the airways. This leads to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Managing allergic asthma involves identifying and avoiding triggers whenever possible. In some cases, allergy shots or medications may be prescribed to reduce sensitivity to allergens.

Non-Allergic Asthma

Non-allergic asthma is triggered by factors other than allergens. Some common triggers include stress, cold air, exercise, viral infections, smoke from cigarettes or wood-burning stoves, and certain medications.

The symptoms of non-allergic asthma are similar to those of allergic asthma but may not be as severe. Treatment for non-allergic asthma typically involves identifying and avoiding triggers whenever possible and using medication as prescribed.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is a subtype that is triggered by physical activity, also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). It can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and fatigue during or after exercise. EIA can occur in athletes and non-athletes, and its severity can vary from person to person.

Diagnosing EIA involves performing a breathing test before and after exercise. Treatment options include using a bronchodilator inhaler before exercising, warming up and cooling down slowly, and avoiding exercise in cold or dry environments.

Cough-Variant Asthma

Cough-variant asthma (CVA) is another subtype where coughing is the primary symptom. Unlike traditional asthma where wheezing and shortness of breath are more common symptoms, CVA patients experience persistent coughing which may worsen at night or with exposure to allergens. EIB may be a symptom in some CVA patients.

Diagnosing CVA involves performing lung function tests along with monitoring cough frequency over time. Treatment options include using inhalers containing bronchodilators or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the airways.

Occupational Asthma

Occupational asthma develops when individuals are exposed to irritants in their workplace environment over time. This subtype can develop even if someone has been working in an environment for years without any symptoms. Irritants that can cause occupational asthma include chemicals, dust, fumes, and other airborne particles.

Diagnosis involves performing breathing tests and monitoring symptoms over time. Treatment includes avoiding exposure to the irritants causing the condition and wearing protective equipment such as masks while working. Medications such as bronchodilators or corticosteroids may also be prescribed to manage symptoms.

Nocturnal Asthma

Nocturnal asthma occurs during nighttime hours while sleeping. Symptoms include coughing and wheezing which can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue during daytime hours. The severity of the condition may require consultation with a specialist. EIB can be a trigger for nocturnal asthma. It can be diagnosed through lung function tests.

Severe Asthma

Severe asthma is a subtype that is difficult to control with standard treatments such as inhalers or oral medications. People with severe asthma may experience frequent attacks that require emergency medical care or hospitalization.

Symptoms of severe asthma may include persistent coughing, difficulty breathing at rest, rapid breathing, and chest pain. This condition can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and lead to serious complications if left untreated.

If you have severe asthma, your doctor may recommend aggressive treatment options such as biologic medications that target specific proteins involved in inflammation or bronchial thermoplasty, a procedure that uses heat energy to reduce the smooth muscle tissue in the airways.

Treatment Options for Different Types of Asthma

Asthma medicines such as inhaled corticosteroids, bronchodilators, and leukotriene modifiers are commonly prescribed for asthma treatment. Inhaled corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation in the airways, while bronchodilators help to relax the muscles around the airways. Leukotriene modifiers prevent the release of certain chemicals that cause inflammation in the lungs.

A treatment plan for asthma may include a combination of medicines, lifestyle changes, and avoidance of triggers. It is crucial to follow the prescribed medication regimen consistently to manage asthma symptoms effectively. Skipping doses or not taking medications as directed can lead to uncontrolled symptoms and exacerbations.

Regular exercise can also be part of an asthma treatment plan, but make sure you consult with a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. Exercise-induced asthma occurs when physical activity triggers asthmatic symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. However, regular exercise can improve lung function and overall health for people with well-controlled asthma.

In addition to medication and lifestyle changes, immunotherapy or allergy shots may be recommended for those with allergic asthma. Allergy shots involve exposing patients to small amounts of allergens over time to desensitize their immune system’s response.

Work closely with a healthcare provider to develop an effective treatment plan for your specific type of asthma. The goal should be to control symptoms so that you can continue your daily activities without interruption.

How Can Air Purifiers Help Asthma Symptoms?

One of the main benefits of using an air purifier for asthma is its ability to remove allergens and irritants from the air. These particles can trigger asthma symptoms, causing coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. HEPA filters in air purifiers can capture particles as small as .3 microns, including pet dander, pollen, and dust mites.

Air purifiers with activated carbon filters can also remove odors and chemicals from the air that can trigger asthma symptoms. These filters work by absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are commonly found in household cleaning products, paints, and other chemicals.

Using an air purifier in the bedroom can improve sleep quality for people with asthma by reducing nighttime symptoms. When you sleep, your body is more vulnerable to environmental triggers like dust mites or pet dander that may be present in your bedroom. An air purifier can help eliminate these triggers so you can get a good night’s rest.

Portable air purifiers are a convenient option for people who travel or move frequently since they allow them to maintain clean air wherever they go. They are also useful for those who live in apartments or houses where central HVAC systems cannot be installed. For individuals with nocturnal asthma, portable air purifiers can be beneficial in reducing triggers that cause symptoms during the night.

Make sure you regularly replace the filters in air purifiers to ensure that they continue to remove pollutants from the air. Over time, filters become clogged with particles and lose their ability to capture new ones. It is recommended that HEPA filters be replaced every six months or sooner if they appear dirty.


Living with asthma can be challenging, especially when you are not sure what type of asthma you have. Understanding the different subtypes of asthma can help you manage your condition properly.

Your healthcare provider can diagnose the type of asthmatic condition you have with several tests. Asthma treatment options vary depending on what subtype you have, and can include avoiding triggers, taking medications, and using air purifiers. With proper care, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

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