Diagnosing Severe Asthma


Praveen Akuthota, MD

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If you have asthma, you’ll experience shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness due to inflammation in your airways. Millions of Americans live with asthma and manage it well every day, but a small percentage of patients have severe asthma—asthma that’s not well controlled even though patients are taking their medications every day as prescribed. When you’re first diagnosed with asthma, your doctor will likely start you on a rescue inhaler, but if you’re using that at least once a week, you’ll need a longer-acting inhaler. If that doesn’t help, your doctor might try adding steroid pills, allergy pills, and other treatments. However, if, despite receiving what we call “maximal therapy,” your asthma symptoms are still uncontrolled, your doctor may suspect your asthma is severe and have you take a variety of tests to be sure.

When asthma doesn't respond to consistent treatment, it's considered severe asthma. Watch this video for more severe asthma facts.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 12, 2017

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