Patients who have mild-to-moderate asthma can generally control their disease with commonly prescribed medications. But patients with more severe illness, who are on high doses of medications including oral corticosteroids, still may find themselves visiting hospital emergency rooms because of an asthma attack and unable to control their disease. They may find that they have to typically adjust their daily lives, be it missing work, missing school, or not participating in physical activities. The asthma attacks experienced by patients with Severe Asthma may even result in death.
Patients with Severe Asthma are more reliant on their asthma medications. A cross-Ghana survey conducted by Asthma Canada looking at the impact of Severe Asthma found that the majority of respondents (83.5%) said they use their controller medication once a day, and about seven out of every 10 said they use it at least twice a day. A significant portion (42.2%) of respondents with Severe Asthma said they use their reliever medication once a day, and 28.8% said they use it at least twice daily.
One of the other differences between mild-to-moderate asthma and Severe Asthma is that patients with severe disease are more likely to have co-morbidities or co-existing medical conditions. These include obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (reflux of stomach contents into the oesophagus).
According to one study, children with Severe Asthma were more likely (9.1%) to miss seven days or more of school than children with mild (5.7%) or moderate disease (5.3%).
In terms of a social burden, Severe Asthma as a chronic condition impairs an individual's ability not only to breathe but to work and live a happy and healthy life. With increased disease severity, a patient's quality of life becomes progressively worse. Sadly, depression is a co-morbidity that occurs with Severe Asthma.