Asthma Management Handbook
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Table. Definitions of asthma patterns in children aged 0–5 years not taking regular preventer


Pattern and intensity of symptoms (when not taking regular treatment)

Infrequent intermittent asthma

Symptom-free for at least 6 weeks at a time (flare-ups up to once every 6 weeks on average but no symptoms between flare-ups)

Frequent intermittent asthma

Flare-ups more than once every 6 weeks on average but no symptoms between flare-ups

Persistent asthma


At least one of:

  • Daytime symptoms more than once per week but not every day
  • Night-time symptoms more than twice per month but not every week


Any of:

  • Daytime symptoms daily
  • Night-time symptoms more than once per week
  • Symptoms sometimes restrict activity or sleep


Any of:

  • Daytime symptoms continual
  • Night-time symptoms frequent
  • Flare-ups frequent
  • Symptoms frequently restrict activity or sleep

† Symptoms between flare-ups. A flare-up is defined as a period of worsening asthma symptoms, from mild (e.g. symptoms that are just outside the normal range of variation for the child, documented when well) to severe (e.g. events that require urgent action by parents and health professionals to prevent a serious outcome such as hospitalisation or death from asthma).

Note: Use this table when the diagnosis of asthma can be made with reasonable confidence (e.g. a child with wheezing accompanied by persistent cough or breathing difficulty, no signs or symptoms that suggest a potentially serious alternative diagnosis, and the presence of other factors that increase the probability of asthma such as family history of allergies or asthma).

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