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Your Child's Asthma: How Severe Is It?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grades asthma based on symptoms. Those grades are a guideline for treatment and will help your healthcare provider decide if your child needs to take daily preventive medicine or use rescue medicines as needed. Your child's healthcare provider will also 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

The four levels are:

  • Intermittent asthma. Children with symptoms no more than 2 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 happen less than 2 times a month.

  • Mild persistent asthma. Children with symptoms more than 2 times a week, but not daily. They may have activity levels affected by the flare-ups. Nighttime symptoms happen greater than 2 times a month, but no more than once per week.

  • Moderate persistent asthma. Children with symptoms every day. They use their rescue medicine every day, and may have activity levels affected by the flare-ups. Nighttime symptoms happen greater than 1 time a week.

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Last Review Date: 8/1/2016
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