People with severe asthma have symptoms that could be life threatening and have asthma that is chronic in nature. Severe asthma is more difficult to get under control with common treatment methods like asthma medications. Because of this, it is important to understand common triggers for severe asthma as well as effective treatment methods.

What is Asthma

Before we discuss triggers and treatment options for severe asthma it is best to review what exactly asthma is.

The medical definition used for asthma is a “chronic inflammatory disease of the airway” [1] that can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, and in some cases chest tightness.

What makes asthma difficult to treat is that there is often no set pattern for what triggers an asthma attack and the symptoms can vary from being very mild to severe. There is no cure for asthma but there are things you can do to alleviate asthma symptoms and reduce or eliminate asthma attacks.

When someone has an asthma attack the airflow in and out of the lungs is restricted to because of either inflammation in the airways or because of muscle constriction of the airways from muscle tightness.

Common Triggers

An asthma trigger is something that can often lead to an asthma attack for a person with asthma. This can be very specific to one person over another so it is important to learn what some common triggers are to be aware of.

When thinking about triggers it is important to think about stuff in the air that when inhaled could cause an inflammatory response. This is like an allergic reaction. Common allergic triggers are Dust Mites, Animal hair, molds, pollens, viral infections, and some air pollutants. There are also triggers non-allergic triggers such as smoke, exercise, strong smells, cold air, and even crying that can restrict the muscles around the airways.

Treatments & Medications

When it comes to treating asthma symptoms it is primarily focused on treating the bodies inflammatory response with the use of steroids to locally treat the airways and quickly reduce inflammation and open up the airways.

To deliver the steroid medication directly to the affected airways an asthma inhaler is used. Aerosol inhalers known as “puffers” are the most common type of inhaler used and they deliver a measured dose of medication to be inhaled. You can also make use of spacer with the inhaler which helps to better inhale the medicine to the airways and not get caught up in the mouth.
asthma inhaler
There are also dry powder inhalers that come in a diskus format that looks similar to a hockey puck and a turbuhaler which uses a dial on the bottom to set the dosage for you to inhale.

Regardless of the type of inhaler the goal is to get the asthma medication into the airways to reduce the inflammation.

There are two primary types of asthma medication, relievers and controllers. Relievers are used when an asthma attack is happening and immediate relief is needed. Controller medications are designed to reduce the risk of having an asthma attack in the first place by acting as a preventative medication and prevent the bodies inflammatory response before it can kick in and cause an asthma attack.

Relievers medications should be carried with an asthma patient at all times in case an attack occurs. Reliever medication is fast acting and you should be able to breathe easier after about 10 to 15 minutes of taking the medication.

Controller medications are used to treat persistent inflammation of the airways and for someone with severe asthma they can be very effective at making the asthma patient feel better overall as it treats the persistent chronic inflammation that is present with severe asthma suffers.


While there is no cure for asthma the regular use of controller medications in combination with reliever medications at the onset of an asthma attack are effective in limiting severe asthma attacks and preventing even mild symptoms.

With a good understanding of what commonly triggers a patients asthma and modifying behaviors to limit exposure to these triggers the long term management of asthmas symptoms is common and can be managed this way indefinitely.

For more information on how to live with severe asthma check out this report Severe Asthma Report