In the United States, more than 22 million people suffer from asthma, a chronic condition that causes your airways to get narrower and your lungs to get less air. When someone experiences symptoms of asthma every day—including wheezing, coughing, chest tightening or shortness of breath—it is called severe persistent asthma.

Asthma is considered persistent if it meets the following criteria:

  • Symptoms throughout the day
  • Nighttime awakenings with asthma symptoms
  • Use of a quick-relief inhaler several time per day
  • Asthma severely limits daily activities
  • Peak flow readings are less than 60% of personal best
  • Flare-ups require the use of oral steroids two or more times a year

Doctors Who Treat Severe Persistent Asthma

As severe persistent asthma is diagnosed, treated and managed, you may see one or more of these doctors:

  • Family Physician: Doctor with a specialty in internal medicine. This is often a patient’s primary care physician who helps in the initial diagnosis and treatment.
  • Allergist: An internist who has taken additional training as a specialist in allergy and immunology. An allergist specializes in allergies and asthma.
  • Pulmonologist: A specialist in respiratory diseases. Some pulmonologists may get additional board certification in critical-care medicine.
  • Emergency Physician: A physician who works at an emergency department to care for acutely ill patients. Patients with severe asthma may go to an emergency room when their symptoms escalate quickly and become severe.