What is Severe Asthma?

Some people with asthma experience severe or refractory asthma, which remains uncontrolled despite proper medication and treatment.

Woman using volumatic chamber and controller inhaler

Defining severe asthma

Severe asthma is difficult to define. It is made more confusing because there are several other words people use to describe it (difficult, brittle) and people may use these terms in different ways.

The Asthma Society of Ireland was involved in the production of a report on severe asthma in Western Europe and included the experiences of Irish patients with severe asthma.

There is a widespread, popular misconception that asthma is a mild disease that only affects children. Not many people are aware of the severe consequences it can have on a person’s quality of life.

The critical issue for those who suffer from severe asthma is the effect on quality of life.  Social situations that are taken for granted such as going on holidays, going out with friends, or taking a walk in the countryside are situations which can be difficult or impossible for those suffering with severe asthma.  Almost seven in ten (69%) participants in the European study say their asthma prevents them taking part in sport or other physical activities.

I was often worried about having an asthma attack in the middle of the night and not being able to call out for help. I would keep a shoe by my bed and would bang on the floor for my mother to hear in case I suffered an attack.

Irish patient with severe asthma

If you have a question about your asthma contact our Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 or email nurse@asthmasociety.ie