Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention

Publication Date: May 11, 2023
Last Updated: May 17, 2023

Asthma Definition and Diagnosis

What is asthma?

  • Asthma is a heterogeneous disease, usually characterized by chronic airway inflammation. It is defined by the history of respiratory symptoms, such as wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough, that vary over time and in intensity, together with variable expiratory airflow limitation. Airflow limitation may later become persistent.
  • Asthma is usually associated with airway hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammation, but these are not necessary or sufficient to make the diagnosis.
  • Recognizable clusters of demographic, clinical and/or pathophysiological characteristics are often called ‘asthma phenotypes’; however, these do not correlate strongly with specific pathological processes or treatment responses.

Assessment of Asthma

Asthma control

  • The level of asthma control is the extent to which the features of asthma can be observed in the patient, or have been reduced or removed by treatment.
  • Asthma control is assessed in two domains: symptom control and risk of adverse outcomes. Poor symptom control is burdensome to patients and increases the risk of exacerbations, but patients with good symptom control can still have severe exacerbations.



Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention

Authoring Organization