Asthma is a medical condition that can make breathing difficult. Asthma causes swelling and narrowing of the airways. Some people with asthma also produce excess mucus in their airways.

These factors make taking in air harder, which leads to symptoms such as wheezing, chest pain, and coughing.

Doctors grade asthma based on the severity of symptoms. These classifications help them identify the severity of a person’s asthma. The frequency and severity of symptoms are two factors that account for a classification.

Asthma symptoms can occur intermittently (occasionally) or they may be more persistent. Learn more about moderate persistent asthma, how it’s diagnosed, how it’s treated, and more.

Moderate persistent asthma is more severe than mild intermittent or persistent asthma. People with moderate persistent asthma experience symptoms typically every day, or at least most days in the week.

Symptoms of moderate persistent asthma can include:

Asthma can be divided into four stages. Grading is based on how frequently symptoms occur, how severe they are when they occur, and your overall health.

The four stages of asthma are:

  • Mild intermittent asthma. Mild symptoms of asthma occur no more than two days per week or two times per month.
  • Mild persistent asthma. Mild symptoms occur more often than twice per week.
  • Moderate persistent asthma. Increasingly severe symptoms of asthma occur daily and at least one night each week. Flare-ups also last several days.
  • Severe persistent asthma. At this stage, symptoms occur several times per day almost every day. You may also experience symptoms many nights each week. This stage of asthma may not respond well to treatment.

Moderate persistent asthma isn’t as common as mild intermittent or mild persistent asthma. The least common type of asthma is severe persistent asthma.

People who have moderate persistent asthma experience:

  • symptoms at least once each day
  • flare-ups that last several days
  • coughing and wheezing that interrupt everyday activities
  • symptoms that interfere with normal activities
  • nighttime flare-ups that interfere with sleep at least once per week
  • symptoms that make sleep difficult at least once per week

People with moderate persistent asthma have roughly 60 to 80 percent normal lung function without treatment. With treatment, though, much of that function may be regained.

What does it mean?

Asthma classifications are fluid. People with asthma can move in and out of these stages based on how their medication is working or how often symptoms occur.

These classifications don’t hold meaning for all doctors. In fact, some don’t even use them.

Instead, the stages of asthma are a way for doctors to help communicate how severe your symptoms are at any given time. Using the guidelines can help your doctor determine whether your symptoms are getting better or worse, or if they’ve stabilized.

Several types of medications are used to treat asthma. For people with moderate persistent asthma, your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments in order to handle daily symptoms as well as flare-ups when they occur.

The most common treatments for moderate persistent asthma include:

Long-term control treatments

These medications are used as a preventive method. Some are taken daily; others may be longer-lasting and don’t require daily usage. Examples of long-term control medicines include:

  • daily pills
  • inhaled corticosteroids
  • leukotriene modifiers
  • long-acting beta agonists
  • combination inhalers

Rescue inhalers

These medications are used for emergency relief during an asthma attack or sudden worsening of symptoms. Rescue inhalers are typically bronchodilators. These medications can act within minutes to open up the inflamed airways.

Allergy medications

If allergies trigger an increase in asthma symptoms, your doctor may prescribe allergy medications to reduce the risk of an attack.

These medications may be taken daily. If you have seasonal allergies, you may only need these drugs for brief periods of time each year. Allergy shots can also help reduce your sensitivity to allergens over time.

Bronchial thermoplasty

This asthma treatment isn’t widely available yet and isn’t recommended for everyone.

During the procedure, a healthcare provider will heat the tissue in the lungs with an electrode. This will reduce the activity of the smooth muscles that line the lungs. When the smooth muscles can’t be as active, you may experience fewer symptoms and have an easier time breathing.

See what else is on the horizon for asthma treatments.

In addition to medical treatments, some lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms of moderate persistent asthma. These changes may also help prevent worsening of asthma symptoms.

  • Practice breathing exercises. Your doctor may recommend you work with a pulmonologist to learn breathing exercises that can strengthen your lungs and build air capacity. A pulmonologist is a doctor who works specifically with people who have asthma or other lung conditions.
  • Recognize triggers. Certain conditions, products, or weather may make your asthma symptoms worse. These things are called triggers. Avoiding them may help you prevent asthma attacks or flare-ups. Common asthma triggers include humidity or cold temperatures, seasonal allergies, and physical activity.
  • Exercise more. If exercise can cause an asthma attack, you may wonder why exercise is a preventive method. That’s because regular exercise can help your lungs become stronger. This can help reduce symptoms and flare-ups over time.
  • Live a healthy life. In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating well can go a long way to overall health. These changes may help reduce your risk for flare-ups.
  • Track your breathing. Monitor your breathing daily to see whether your asthma treatments continue to work. If symptoms are gradually worsening, see your doctor. This may be a sign you need a new treatment. If the symptoms are staying the same or improving, you can rest assured your treatment is sufficient right now.
  • Get vaccinated. Seasonal vaccination for the flu and pneumonia can prevent those illnesses, which in turn prevents worsening asthma symptoms.
  • Stop smoking. If you smoke, it’s time to kick the habit. Smoking irritates the lining of your airways. If you have asthma, you could be doubling the irritation.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders. Asthma medication can be effective, but only if you take it as prescribed. Even when your symptoms are improving, continue to take your medication. Suddenly stopping your treatment could make symptoms worse.

Moderate persistent asthma is an advanced stage of asthma. People who have this condition experience asthma symptoms every day. They may also experience symptoms at least one night per week. Flare-ups can last several days.

Moderate persistent asthma still responds to medical treatment. Lifestyle changes can also improve it. These changes also boost your overall health as well as your lungs’ health.

If you believe you have asthma, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. If you’ve received an asthma diagnosis but don’t think your medication is working properly, consult your doctor for help.

Asthma stages can change over the course of your lifetime. Staying on top of the changes can help your doctor provide the best treatment for you. That gives you the best outlook for your healthiest future.