What is Intermittent Asthma?

Many asthma sufferers do not realize that there are different types of asthma diagnoses that depend on the frequency of asthma symptoms. Whereas people who suffer from asthma symptoms regularly are often diagnosed with persistent asthma, those who experience symptoms 2 days each week or less are likely to be diagnosed with intermittent asthma. Those with intermittent asthma also do not have more than 2 night flares each month.

The main feature of intermittent asthma is flare-ups occurring only a few times each month. The symptoms themselves can range in severity, but most people with intermittent asthma have mild symptoms. It is possible for those with intermittent asthma to have asthma that progresses to persistent asthma.

Whether intermittent or persistent, asthma tends to generally include the same symptoms. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Coughing tends to happen more frequently at night or following exercise. These symptoms are caused by a few different physiological activities, including inflammation in the airway and shrinking and spasms of the lungs.

Those with intermittent asthma often notice that their symptoms are triggered by specific stimuli, such as certain chemicals, smoke, pollen, cold air, or pet dander. Respiratory infections often also lead to asthma symptoms in intermittent asthma patients.

Intermittent asthma patients can manage their symptoms by avoiding their triggers, but they will often still require medical intervention as well. Treatment for intermittent asthma, however, may be different than treatment for persistent asthma. Specifically, intermittent asthma often requires fewer treatments. The treatments are likely to be short-acting beta agonists, such as albuterol - also known as a rescue inhaler - or oral corticosteroids like prednisone. Even though people with intermittent asthma may feel as though their symptoms resolve, it is important to pursue treatment to prevent severe asthma attacks.

Author
Dr. Summit Shah

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