People with severe asthma have persistent symptoms

People have severe asthma if their asthma does not respond as well to commonly used asthma medications.

This means they are more at risk of severe attacks and persistent symptoms.

While one in nine Australians has asthma – 2.7 million people – a smaller proportion has severe asthma. This is estimated at three to 10 per cent.

Severe asthma is likely to be caused by several factors, but research has yet to determine exactly why some people develop this severe form of asthma. Asthma is more likely to become severe in people with asthma who are older, or who are smokers. Sometimes asthma becomes more severe after a respiratory infection.

It is not normal to have ongoing frequent asthma symptoms.

People with severe asthma will use many of the same preventer and reliever medicines used by people with mild to moderate asthma. However, people with severe asthma do not respond as well to these commonly prescribed asthma treatments, and often require additional treatment options.

These are described here. If you think you have severe asthma, see your GP and ask if a referral to a respiratory specialist is right for you.

Living with Severe Asthma

Healthtalk Australia recently conducted qualitative research on living with severe asthma. They interviewed 35 people about their experience with severe asthma from all around Australia, including regional areas.

In their video interviews available on the Healthtalk Australia Severe Asthma section they talk to each person about how severe asthma affects them – the emotional burden, challenges of everyday life, personal relationships, what they value out of their interactions with healthcare providers and how medication affects them.