Asthma Diagnosis Determining Your Asthma Severity Measure Your Asthma Level to Gain Control Print By Pat Bass, MD | Reviewed by Sanja Jelic, MD Updated February 20, 2018 Geber86/Getty Images More in Asthma Diagnosis Symptoms Treatment Triggers Living With Prevention Asthma in Children Understanding your asthma severity has implications for your asthma control. Severity is linked to the asthma treatment and monitoring your doctor will recommend. Without measuring your asthma regularly, you will have difficulty knowing if interventions are improving your asthma or if your asthma is worsening. As a result, asthma may be limiting your day-to-day activities and you might not even realize it. By reviewing the table below, you can classify your asthma severity based on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) guidelines as either: IntermittentMild persistentModerate persistentSevere persistent Your asthma severity is based on the criteria described below. You classify yourself based on your worst symptom. For example, if you are waking up two nights per month with a cough or feeling short of breath, your asthma is in the intermittent asthma severity classification. If you have symptoms two days per week, use your rescue inhaler two times per week, have a normal FEV1 between exacerbations, but wake up at night three times per week, your asthma severity is moderate persistent. Your asthma treatment will, in part, be based on your asthma severity. Asthma Severity Severity is based on symptoms associated with poor asthma control. The table uses the following criteria to determine asthma severity: Symptoms: How many days in the past week have you experienced chest tightness, cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing?Nighttime awakenings: How often do you wake up at night with chest tightness, cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing?Rescue inhaler use: How many times in the last week have you used your rescue inhaler?FEV1: What is your current lung function measured with spirometry? Unlike the other above symptoms, your FEV1 will not be readily available at home; you will need to ask your doctor when pulmonary function tests are performed. Intermittent Mild Persistent Moderate Persistent Severe Persistent Symptoms 2 or less days per week More than 2 days per week Daily Throughout the day Nighttime Awakenings 2X per month or less 3-4X per month More than once per week but not nightly Nightly Rescue Inhaler Use 2 or less days per week More than 2 days per week, but not daily Daily Several times per day Interference With Normal Activity None Minor limitation Some limitation Extremely limited Lung Function FEV1 >80% predicted and normal between exacerbations FEV1 >80% predicted FEV1 60-80% predicted FEV1 less than 60% predicted A Word From Verywell There is some debate among experts today whether asthma action plans based off of symptoms are more effective than plans based off of peak flow or even home FEV1. You can talk with your doctor and determine which one they recommend and which one might be best for you. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. May 20, 2010. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Clinical Pulmonary Function Testing, Exercise Testing, and Disability Evaluation. In Chest Medicine: Essentials Of Pulmonary And Critical Care Medicine. Editors: Ronald B. George, Richard W. Light, Richard A. Matthay, Michael A. Matthay. 5th Edition. Continue Reading Article What Type Of Asthma Do You Have? Article An Overview of Intermittent Asthma Article What Does Mometasone Furoate Do for My Asthma? Article Budesonide For Your Asthma Article Antihistamines May Help Your Asthma If It Is Caused by Allergies Article What You Need to Know About Systemic Corticosteroids List 3 Vitamins That Impact Your Asthma Article What Questions Should You Ask Your Asthma Doctor This Year? Article Will an Immunomodulator Help Your Asthma? Article Can Stress Make Asthma Worse? Article Are You Dripping Towards Poor Asthma Control? Article Embarrassed By Your Asthma? Here Are Some Tips to Cope Article Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Asthma? Article Is Histamine Impacting Your Asthma? Article Is Your Immune System Making Your Asthma Worse? Article Can Ginger Improve Your Asthma?