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Older man with asthma using an inhaler


Last updated: 25th Jul 2024

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways which remains uncontrolled despite current therapy for many patients.

Asthma is characterised by fluctuating symptoms which include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath. Genetic and environmental factors contribute to asthma and there are numerous stimuli that can trigger asthma, both atopic (allergic) and non-atopic (non-allergic).

Asthma has no cure, so long-term prevention focuses on avoiding known triggers. Asthma is classified by the frequency and extent of symptoms, the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and peak expiratory flow rate.

Treatment options for asthma include inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) which can be used alongside long-acting beta 2 agonists (LABA) or antileukotriene agents if the symptoms persist. Short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) as the only treatment is no longer recommended following strong evidence that this increases the risk of severe exacerbations and asthma-related death. Adding any ICS significantly reduces this risk.

To find out more about moderate to severe asthma, visit our dedicated Learning Zone, which contains further information on the causes of asthma and the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) recommendations for management.


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