7 Risks of Uncontrolled Severe Asthma

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN on May 1, 2021
  • Deep thinker
    Uncontrolled severe asthma puts you at risk.
    Roughly 10% of all Americans with asthma have a severe form of the disease that is especially hard to manage, known simply as severe asthma. This type of asthma is typically difficult to control with standard medications, and may require more medications at higher doses. However, it’s important that you do all you can to control your asthma symptoms, since uncontrolled severe asthma has many risks associated with it. Because asthma is a life-long condition, the better control you have, the lower your risk of experiencing negative consequences due to poor symptom control.
  • Sleeping Man Being Woken By Mobile Phone In Bedroom
    1. You might not be able to sleep well.
    If you have uncontrolled severe asthma, it’s possible that your sleep might be interrupted by your symptoms. One recent study found up to 16% of men and 20% of women experienced disturbed sleep at least once a week as a result of an asthma flare-up. Since a good night’s sleep is essential to your health and happiness, your uncontrolled asthma could have an effect on more than just your lungs—we need sleep to keep our immune systems strong, give us energy, help our bodies function optimally, and maintain good overall mental and physical health. 
  • Lady Walking
    2. You might not be able to enjoy the same activities.
    With uncontrolled asthma, common triggers could set off a flare-up. Many people with uncontrolled severe asthma have to give up activities they love to avoid serious asthma attacks. Some patients with severe asthma have trouble completing normal daily activities, like walking up stairs or caring for their children. However, the more control you have over your asthma, the more you’ll be able to experience life as normally as possible. If you take steps with your doctor to control your condition, you might still be able to participate in all the activities you enjoy.
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    3. You could miss work or school.
    Asthma flare-ups can happen at any time, and many people with uncontrolled severe asthma have more flare-ups than usual. As a result, your symptoms might mean you have to miss work or school. Unfortunately, this can have consequences like losing a job, which in turn can impact your finances and quality of life. Sticking to your doctor’s treatment plan helps to prevent or reduce your severe symptoms as much as possible. If your current medications aren’t enough to control your symptoms, talk to your doctor about stepping up your treatment.
  • Worried Woman Waiting
    4. You could experience emotional side effects.
    Since asthma is a disease that makes it harder to breathe, it’s not unusual for asthmatics to suffer from anxiety or depression. You might already be worried about when the next flare-up will occur, or troubled by the fact that you can’t enjoy certain activities like you once did. Experiencing these setbacks consistently can negatively impact your mental health. Maintaining frequent, regular checkups with your doctor can help ensure you’re managing your asthma as best as possible, increasing your quality of life and allowing you to live without fear.
  • Emergency Room
    5. You might have frequent hospitalizations.
    Part of the reason it’s so important to follow your treatment plan is that severe asthma symptoms are usually difficult to treat, which can impact your ability to breathe easily. If you have an asthma attack, you might need to seek professional medical help. If your symptoms are bad enough, you could be hospitalized. Many people with severe uncontrolled asthma are hospitalized frequently, so it’s important to manage your symptoms as effectively as possible.
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    6. Your lungs could be permanently damaged.
    Asthma causes inflammation in your lungs, making it harder for you to breath. If your asthma is uncontrolled or severe, your lungs experience inflammation and tissue injury for longer periods of time compared to people without asthma. As a result, structural changes can occur within your lungs, making it permanently harder for you to breathe. This is called airway remodeling. Controlling your symptoms as much as possible, especially with your doctor’s guidance, can help prevent this remodeling from occurring.
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    7. You’re more likely to develop certain diseases.
    In one study, 64% of patients with uncontrolled asthma had asthma-related comorbidities, or diseases related to asthma. These conditions include rhinitis, sinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obstructive sleep apnea, hormonal disorders, and psychiatric disorders. Asthmatics are also more likely to develop hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and COPD, and this risk increases when asthma symptoms are not controlled and asthma is severe. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your doctor about getting your severe asthma under control.
Severe Asthma Risks | 7 Risks of Uncontrolled Severe Asthma

About The Author

Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
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Last Review Date: 2021 May 1
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