Mild Persistent Asthma Classification: Diagnosis and Treatment

How the Classification of Mild Asthma Is Determined

South Africa, Cape Town, young jogger using asthma inhaler on the beach. Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images

Mild persistent asthma is one of the four types of asthma. People who suffer from mild persistent asthma generally have asthma symptoms more than twice a week, but not more than once a day. Their nighttime symptoms occur more than twice a month. Asthma attacks may affect the activities of people with mild persistent asthma.

Asthma Classification: 4 Types

How asthma is classified is based on symptoms and the severity of the condition.

 To determine which category of asthma classification your condition falls into, your doctor will consider the following:

  • Symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing, all prior to treatment— Note that severe asthma attacks are possible in any asthma classification, even in the mildest classification of asthma.
  • How you perform on a lung function test or pulmonary function test (to determine the amount and speed of air you can blow)

Your asthma can change over time, as can classification. It is important to note that asthma is difficult to diagnose and classify in children younger than the age of 4 years old, as symptoms can be different from the types of asthma exhibited in adults or older kids.

Asthma has been classified into the following 4 categories by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program:

Intermittent Asthma. 

  • Symptoms occur 2 days or less per week and do not interfere with normal activities. 
  • Nighttime symptoms occur 2 days or less per month.
  • When not having an asthma attack, lung function tests are normal and vary little from morning to afternoon.

Mild Persistent Asthma. 

  • Occurrence of symptoms is more than 2 days per week but not every day. 
  • Asthma attacks interfere with normal daily activities. 
  • Nighttime symptoms occur 3 to 4 times a month.
  • Lung function tests are normal when not having an attack and may vary a small amount from morning to afternoon.

Moderate Persistent Asthma. 

  • A daily occurrence of symptoms and a short-acting inhaler is used every day. 
  • Symptoms interfere with daily activities. 
  • Nighttime symptoms occur more than 1 time a week, but do not happen every day and lung function tests are abnormal and vary more than 30% from morning to afternoon.

Severe Persistent Asthma. 

  • Symptoms occur throughout each day and severely limit daily physical activities. 
  • Nighttime symptoms occur often, sometimes every night. 
  • Lung function tests are abnormal and may vary greatly from morning to afternoon.

Diagnosis of Mild Persistent Asthma

According to the National Guidelines for managing asthma, your doctor will diagnose the severity of your asthma as mild persistent according to the following factors:

  • Frequency of symptoms (more than 2 days per week, but not daily)
  • Frequency of nighttime awakenings with asthma symptoms (3 to 4 times per month)
  • Use of a quick-relief inhaler (more than 2 days per week, but not daily)
  • How much asthma interferes with daily activities (minor limitations)
  • Peak flow readings (at least 80% of personal best)
  • Whether asthma flares require use or oral steroids (2 or more times in a year)

Treating Mild Persistent Asthma

Once a diagnosis of asthma has been made, the doctor will prescribe asthma medications. The two main types of asthma medicines are quick-relief medicines (used for immediate relief when an asthma attack begins) and long-term control medicines, which are to be taken every day to prevent symptoms and asthma attacks.

Over the years, the severity of asthma may fluctuate for many individuals, which means that medication and treatment may also fluctuate accordingly, with the ultimate goal being to keep asthma under control.


"Needs Assessment Report 2007." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council Asthma Expert Working Group. 

"How Is Asthma Diagnosed?" National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

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