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What You Need to Know About the Three Types of Asthma

Gerri Stone

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If you suffer from asthma, you are familiar with the sudden onset of coughing, that tight feeling in your chest and how hard it can be to get your breath when something triggers an attack. Understanding what type of asthma you have can help you control, or even eliminate your attacks.

The first symptoms of asthma are typically discovered during childhood, and frequently will disappear by adulthood. A small percentage of people suffer their first asthma attack after the age of twenty-one, and it remains with them for life.

There are three main types of asthma, allergic, idiopathic, and mixed asthma.

1. Allergic asthma is typically caused by airborne and seasonal allergens. Typically, there is a family history of allergies, but not necessarily asthma. Once you are exposed to the allergen, it acts as a trigger for an asthma attack. By avoiding the allergen, the asthma is controlled. Children with this kind of asthma generally outgrow it by the time they reach their teen years.

2. Idiopathic or non-allergic asthma is not related to any specific allergen or substance. Common triggers include the common cold, a respiratory tract infection, exercise, emotions, or environmental pollution. Food additives such as sulphites can also trigger this type of asthma. Over time, asthma attacks can become more frequent and severe. It can also develop into a more serious respiratory condition, such as chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.

3. Mixed asthma is a combination of the above types. It is the most commonly diagnosed asthma.

4. Exercise induced asthma is not considered to be one of the basic types of asthma. It is common in people who have one of the above varieties. If you suffer from exercise induced asthma, your airway is reactive to certain conditions, and exercise acts as a trigger. Sometimes, the first symptom you have is being short of breath when you exercise. You might ignore it, thinking that it is because you are out of shape, or haven't worked out for a while. You will find that you cannot build up your endurance because you remain short of breath after minimal exercise. Aerobic exercise, running, playing soccer or hockey, is most likely to trigger this type of asthma attack.

No matter what type of asthma you suffer from, it takes over control of your life. It determines how well you sleep at night, how much energy you have during the day, and how much enjoyment you get out of life. Understanding your asthma type puts you back in control, and helps you prevent those episodes.

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