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Your Child's Asthma: How Severe Is It?

Nov 30, 2008
Asthma levels are classified in "steps," because each child may step up or step down to different levels at any time.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) grades asthma based on symptoms. Those grades are a guideline for treatment. However, your child's health care provider will treat your child based on his or her medical history and current symptoms. The severity of your child's asthma is likely to change over time. The goal of treatment is always to have as few symptoms as possible.

Asthma severity:

  • Intermittent asthma. Children with symptoms no more than two times a week. They do not have problems in-between flare-ups, and only have short flare-ups lasting a few hours to a few days. Nighttime symptoms occur less than two times a month.

  • Mild persistent asthma. Children with symptoms more than two times a week, but not daily. They may have activity levels affected by the flare-ups. Nighttime symptoms occur greater than two times a month, but no more than once per week.

  • Moderate persistent asthma. Children with symptoms every day. They use their rescue medication every day, and may have activity levels affected by the flare-ups. Nighttime symptoms occur greater than one time a week.

  • Severe persistent asthma. Children with symptoms multiple times per day. They have a decrease in their physical activity, and have frequent flare-ups. Nighttime symptoms occur frequently.

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