Mild Persistent Asthma: Is Any Treatment Needed?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by airway inflammation found in the airways and lungs. This further leads to limited airflow and difficulty in breathing. As per the American Lung Association, it is the most common chronic condition found among children. Both mild asthma and severe asthma often develop in childhood, although even adults can develop it at a later stage. While asthma cannot be cured completely, it is still possible to find asthma control with a proper line of treatment.
Asthma severity can differ from person to person. Sometimes, the people suffering from asthma may show very mild effects, meaning they require little to no medical treatment. On the other hand, people can also have some severe effects and may require daily treatment with asthma medication to keep it under control. The frequency and severity of asthma majorly lie between these two ends.
Generally, people who don’t show asthmatic symptoms daily but for more than two days a week may have mild persistent asthma. So, is it risky? Do you need a special asthma management plan and treatment in this case? Read on to find more about mild persistent asthma.
Things You Should Know About Mild Persistent Asthma
Asthma is divided into four categories and each of these categories exhibits the frequency as well as the severity of the symptoms.
The assessment is done based on five specific values – some objective, while others are subjective. These five characteristics include your symptoms, nighttime symptoms, the use of a rescue inhaler, interference with normal activity, and your lung function.
These values together determine and differentiate the severity of asthma while classifying them into four categories – mild intermittent asthma, mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, and severe persistent asthma. The line of treatments is further based on these classifications.
Although the symptoms of all these categories are almost the same, asthma can differ in severity and endurance.
Research suggests that out of all the asthma patients, around 70% have mild persistent asthma. These patients are the silent majority of asthmatics as they rarely visit their primary healthcare provider with asthma symptoms. They are hardly seen in a secondary or tertiary healthcare setting where health professionals tend to work with a focused interest in asthma management. It is, partly, due to this reason that, until recently, little attention was given to people facing mild persistent asthma.
What are the symptoms of mild persistent asthma? Keep reading to learn more.
At first, your healthcare provider will need to review any of your past medical histories and order some lung function tests. This will determine if you have moderate asthma or more severe asthma. Initially, your symptoms and test results will serve as a first-hand report to diagnose whether you have mild persistent asthma.
Apart from the test, the common symptoms that will indicate mild persistent asthma patient include:
- Chest tightness along with pressure or pain
- Mucus buildup in the airways
Apart from this, other factors that can define mild persistent asthma include:
- The asthma effects lead to minor limitations in your day-to-day activities
- The symptoms won’t appear two days weekly at most
- The night symptoms appear three to four times monthly at most
- Less than once a week, you use a short-acting inhaler
Your physician or healthcare provider will get into these details and ask how often these symptoms appear in your day-to-day life and assess how severe or mild their effects are. There's a chance you may not even have mild persistent asthma. Sometimes, people can develop occupational asthma, allergic asthma, or exercise induced asthma caused by the exacerbation of airways during workouts. These tests will help to determine which type of developing asthma is affecting you, so you can get your uncontrolled asthma in check.
In the case of flare-ups with mild persistent asthma, you will be unable to carry out normal daily activities. For instance, it may prevent you from simple actions like climbing the stairs or cleaning the house. You may find it difficult to walk normally and can also get tired easily. This is because your lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen while you’re experiencing an asthma flare.
Generally, people with mild persistent asthma have over 80% of predicted normal lung functioning during the FEV1 breathing test. This means, your lungs can breathe out around 80% of volume per second.
To understand it better, several breathing tests, also known as pulmonary function tests, are conducted to evaluate various facets of your lung function. So, apart from knowing your medical history and symptoms, another thing that will help diagnose your stage of asthma is these breathing tests.
These tests are:
Spirometry: A breathing machine called a spirometer is used here to measure the amount of air you can exhale as well as how quickly you can do this after taking a deep breath. Using these parameters, the doctors will be able to estimate how narrow your small lung airways are.
Peak Flow: This test is specifically done to measure how fast you can breathe out the air. In case when the force is less, it means your lungs aren’t performing properly. If you have taken a peak flow test earlier, this will again help the doctor to compare and identify your current situation i.e., whether your asthma is getting better or worse.
Lung Diffusion: This breathing test will give your doctor an insight into how well the oxygen you inhale moves into your bloodstream. Here, you inhale carbon monoxide (a small amount), hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale into the mouthpiece. This is done to compare the inhaled concentration with the exhaled one to gauge the diffusion capacity of the lungs. In case if the concentration of exhaled carbon monoxide is higher than the predicted value, it means your lungs are not absorbing the oxygen efficiently.
Lung Plethysmography: This test will measure how much air your lungs can hold. It is the opposite of the spirometry test where it measures the air outside your lungs.
All these breathing tests are essential as carrying out only one of them won’t provide enough information to diagnose or evaluate a specific pulmonary condition. While you are required to follow the instructions while carrying out these pulmonary function tests, know that the basic efforts you need to put in here are simply breathing in and out. Additionally, these tests are safe so you don’t have to worry about safety concerns.
Avoid Asthma Triggers in the First Place
Whether your doctor has identified the stage and severity or is yet to do the same, it is essential to identify what triggers your asthma symptoms. Avoiding them or reducing your exposure to them can help prevent and control your asthma flares, so you can avoid a severe asthma attack.
Outlined below are five ways to avoid your asthma triggers:
Dust-proof your home: Clean your home as much as you can as dust mites can trigger asthma. If your home has carpets, remove them. Wash the linens regularly and use dust-resistant bedding.
Use an air conditioner: While natural air may be enticing, it can trigger asthma as it brings along humidity, pollen, and grasses. It’s best to use an air conditioner to eliminate exposure to these outdoor irritants.
Protect your face: Again, when you breathe cold air, you are at high risk of experiencing asthma flares. So, to be on the safer side, it is recommended to cover your face with a scarf or mask whenever you step out of your house.
Clean regularly: Clean the damp areas of your home at regular intervals to prevent mold accumulation. Also, remove mold traps like leaves or firewood from your yard.
Stay healthy: People experiencing normal flu or common cold can also be at higher risk of experiencing more asthma symptoms. Get required vaccines, make a habit to wash hands during seasonal transitions.
Do You Need Any Treatment for Mild Persistent Asthma?
Even after taking necessary precautions, if you’re diagnosed with mild persistent asthma, will you need to follow any line of treatment? The answer is yes.
While there are many asthma medications like a steroid inhaler or nebulizers, your doctor will recommend the line of treatment based on your symptoms and condition.
In general, asthma treatment options for mild persistent asthma include medicines for both quick-relief and long-term control purposes. The former is used for medical treatment when a person experiences an asthma attack, and the latter is taken daily to prevent and control symptoms and asthma attacks.
If you have mild persistent asthma, don’t ignore it. Reach out to your healthcare provider immediately. In this case, you may be given medications like bronchodilators and inhaled steroids. If your asthma fluctuates over time, your doctor will adjust your medication accordingly to control it with minimal side effects.
Keep in mind that even if you have mild persistent asthma, it’s best to take precautionary measures before it develops into chronic asthma. Anyone can experience a severe attack, even those with a mild form of asthma. Keep a rescue medication ready to help ease sudden symptoms.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of asthma or you think that your existing symptoms are worsening, seek the advice of your healthcare professional immediately. A doctor will not only review your condition but will also provide you with effective treatment adjustments. Remember, controlling your asthma is vital to prevent the condition from getting worse.
Take care and stay healthy.