Last updated: Aug 01, 2009

Although asthma is a respiratory condition with only one name, in truth, asthma can be highly variable from person to person. Some people have asthma that is mild or severe; some may cough only at night or wheeze during highly specific situations, such as during exercise; and asthmatics can have highly individual response to triggers such as pollen or cigarette smoke.



The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, which is run by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, groups asthma into four categories based on severity: intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent.

What they all have in common is that the lung airways become narrowed and inflamed, which causes symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.