Expert Insights on Severe Asthma


Jim Haltom, MD

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Female patient listening to doctor

Of the 25 to 30 million people living in the United States with asthma, about 5 to 10% of them have a severe form of the condition.

Allergy and immunology specialist Jim Haltom, MD, discusses what patients need to know about this rare but serious form of asthma.

1. Q: How do I know if I have severe asthma?

A: Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which a patient’s airways become inflamed in response to certain triggers, causing him or her to experience a spectrum of symptoms, from chest tightness to shortness of breath to difficulty performing physical activity. Asthma cases are loosely categorized as mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent. The severity of the illness is based on how frequent and significant your symptoms are. Patients with severe asthma experience symptoms throughout the day, often have symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing at night, and may need to use a rescue inhaler up to several times a day. As a result, their lungs operate at less than 60% of normal capacity and their activity levels are seriously limited. Any one of these symptoms can put you in the severe category. But no matter how severe your asthma is, our emphasis as physicians is on finding a way to control the problem by tailoring the treatment options to our patients’ needs.

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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