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Types of asthma

Each person's asthma symptoms and triggers will be different. There are also different types of asthma:

Allergies and asthma

Allergies and asthma often go hand-in-hand. Allergic rhinitis - also called hayfever - is inflammation of the inside lining of the nose and is the single most common long-term (chronic) allergic disease. In those with allergic rhinitis, increased sensitivity (allergy) to a substance causes the body’s immune cells to release histamine in response to contact with the allergens. Histamine, along with other chemicals, lead to allergy symptoms. The most common allergens enter the body through the airway.

With allergic rhinitis, you may feel a constant runny nose, ongoing sneezing, swollen nasal passages, excess mucus, weepy eyes and a scratchy throat. A cough may result from the constant postnasal drip. Asthma symptoms can be triggered by allergic rhinitis. Your doctor may prescribe medication to control the allergies and in doing so, the cough and other asthma symptoms may subside.

Exercise-induced asthma

Exercise-induced asthma is a type of asthma triggered by exercise or physical exertion. Many people with asthma experience some degree of symptoms with exercise. However, there are many people without asthma, including Olympic athletes, who develop symptoms only during exercise.

With exercise-induced asthma, airway narrowing peaks five to 20 minutes after exercise begins, making it difficult to catch your breath. You may have symptoms of an asthma attack with wheezing and coughing. Your doctor can tell you if you need use an asthma inhaler (bronchodilator) before exercise to prevent these uncomfortable asthma symptoms.

Cough-variant asthma

In the type of asthma called cough-variant asthma, severe coughing with asthma is the predominant symptom. There can be other causes of cough such as postnasal drip, chronic rhinitis, sinusitis or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease ( GORD). Coughing because of sinusitis with asthma is common.

Asthma is a serious cause of cough that is common. Asthma triggers for cough-variant asthma are usually respiratory infections and exercise.

For any persistent cough, seek medical advice. Your doctor may arrange specific asthma tests, such as lung function tests, to show how well your lungs work. You might need to see a lung specialist for further tests before an asthma diagnosis is made.

Occupational asthma

Occupational asthma is a type of asthma that results from workplace triggers. With this type of asthma, you might have difficulty breathing and asthma symptoms just on the days you're working.

Many people with this type of asthma suffer with runny nose and congestion or eye irritation or have a cough instead of the typical asthma wheezing.

Some common jobs that are associated with occupational asthma include animal breeders, farmers, hairdressers, nurses, painters and carpenters.

Night-time (nocturnal) asthma

Night-time asthma, also called nocturnal asthma, is a common type of the disease. If you have asthma, the chances of having symptoms are much higher during sleep because asthma is powerfully influenced by the sleep-wake cycle ( circadian rhythms). Your asthma symptoms of wheezing, cough and trouble breathing are common and dangerous, particularly at night-time.

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