Contrary to popular belief, there are different types of asthma. This is not a “one size fits all” condition. Asthma can be categorized into different types, based on the conditions that trigger it.
Until recently the winning thought was that there were only two kinds. They were the extrinsic and intrinsic. But today the list has expanded to include occupational, nocturnal, seasonal, bronchial, cough variant asthma, etc.
The different types of asthma that now exist are explained below:
1. Extrinsic: This is also called allergic asthma and is the one, which most asthmatic patients suffer from. As its name suggests, this condition is induced due to an external factors called allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions). Some of the most common allergens are: pollutants, wood dust, pollen, animal dander chemicals, and smoke.
2. Intrinsic: Allergens are not the cause for this type. The major inducer for this type may be perfumes, cleaning agents, exercise, emotions, cold air, fumes etc. Intrinsic asthma usually occurs in people over the age of 40 and is less responsive to treatments compared to the other types. So the best way to treat this is to avoid the stimulant causing the reaction.
3. Nocturnal: This type of asthma usually occurs when a person is sleeping, irrespective of the time. Although, symptoms for this type mostly occur between 2-4 AM (despite the severality may vary from person to person). Some allergens in bed and also fluctuations in room temperature can act as the trigger for it. Taking your prescribed dose of inhaler, before going to sleep will usually help in preventing this.
4. Occupational: Occupational dusts like wood dusts, chemical fumes, or any other irritants are the cause here. This type is usually seen in those who work in such environments. Prolonged exposure to these agents is the cause for developing this type of asthma. Weaving respiratory masks in these types of workplaces can help in preventing occupational type.
5. Seasonal: Climatic changes can also lead to asthmatic effects in some people. For example, some people may have frequent attacks in spring compared to winter; while for others this may be reversed. Many external factors like flowers, pollens, grass etc. may be the cause for this.
6. Cough Variant: Thee cough itself may be just the precursor or the symptom for asthma. During inhalation, your airway may react with certain allergens and may cause contracting spasms and inflammations. Mucus may also develop, making breathing difficult.
People with cough variant find breathing to be easier when they cough. Why? Because coughing helps to clean the airway and remove the allergen.
People with bronchitis (a lung disease affecting respiratory tract) are more prone to be affected by cough variant type.
7. Exercise-induced: Strenuous exercise causes loss of heat and moisture in lungs and this may lead to asthmatic effects in some individuals. A usual symptom for this type is frequent coughing during exercise, but the symptoms may be severe in cold and dry places.
8. Steroid-resistant: In some cases overuse of certain asthmatic medications (especially steroids) can lead to a severe condition called asthmaticus. In this stage, the person does not respond to any medication and using an artificial respiratory aid may be the only way to reverse the condition.
Another variation of steroid resistant is the “medication induced”. Here the attack is caused due to an allergic reaction to certain medications, which are taken for another health condition.
These basic types of asthma are what we are aware of currently. Each one of the types of asthma carries its own causes and each of the different types of asthma may also require different treatment. Be smart, understand your condition and take the right steps to get it under control.