Clearing the Air: What You Need to Know About Asthma

Frontier Healthcare

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness, which tend to vary over time in frequency or intensity1,2.

Asthma affects approximately 5% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 years2. In Singapore, 1 in every 3 patients with asthma aged 12 years and older has experienced an exacerbation in the previous year, and 1 in every 2 patients has missed work or school due to asthma in the previous year2.

Asthma, previously thought to only affect the lungs, is now understood to involve the entire respiratory tract as part of a systemic airway disease3. This is supported by its frequent co-occurrence with other atopic disorders, particularly allergic rhinitis3.

What are the causes of Asthma?

The exact cause of asthma is unknown, but it is believed to be a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors, which include the following:3,4

causes of asthma

What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma, a chronic disease affecting the airways, is characterised by airway hyperresponsiveness resulting in repeated occurrences of similar symptoms in both adults and children, which include:2,3

symptoms of asthma

However, the severity of asthma symptoms can vary between children and adults. In children, the symptoms of asthma tend to be more evident, as shown below:5

symptoms of asthma in children


How is Asthma diagnosed?

Asthma is diagnosed through the identification of its characteristic symptoms, as well as, if feasible, documenting a reduction in airflow during exhalation6.

The following diagnostic tests are useful in diagnosing asthma:3,6,7

diagnostic tests for asthma


How can Asthma be Treated?

It is important for individuals with asthma to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive and effective management plan.

There are several treatment options for the management of asthma. Listed below are the various options for treating and managing asthma:2,8-10

management and treatments for asthma



1. World Health Organisation. Asthma. Available at: Accessed on: 31 January 2023. 

2. ACE Clinical Guidance: Asthma management 2020.pdf. Available at: Accessed on: 8 February 2023. 

3. Quirt J, Hildebrand KJ, Mazza J, et al. Asthma. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol 2018; 14: 50. 

4. Tiotiu AI, Novakova S, Labor M, et al. Progress in Occupational Asthma. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020; 17: 4553. 

5. Asthma in Children: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Available at: Accessed on: 31 January 2023. 

6. Chronic disease management programme: Handbook for health care professionals 2021.pdf. Available at: Accessed on: 31 January 2023. 

7. Trivedi M, Denton E. Asthma in Children and Adults—What Are the Differences and What Can They Tell us About Asthma? Front Pediatr 2019; 7: 256. 

8. Patient education: Allergic rhinitis (Beyond the Basics) – UpToDate, (accessed 31 January 2023). 

9. Inwald D, Roland M, Kuitert L, et al. Oxygen treatment for acute severe asthma. BMJ 2001; 323: 98–100. 

10. Viera-Artiles J, Corriols-Noval P, López-Simón E, et al. In-office endoscopic nasal polypectomy: prospective analysis of patient tolerability and efficacy. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2020; 277: 3341–3348. 


About Frontier Healthcare Group

Frontier Healthcare (as part of the Qualitas Primary Care Division) runs 18 GP clinics, 2 Family Medicine Clinics (Clementi and MacPherson) and has 37 affiliated GP clinics under its Frontier Primary Care Network Program. Frontier Healthcare supports national schemes such as the Community Health Assist Scheme (Pioneer, Merdeka, CHAS Green, CHAS Orange, CHAS Blue), Baby Bonus, Healthier SG, MBS@Gov etc, as well as partnerships with major Insurers, Corporates and TPA partners to bring quality and affordable healthcare closer to the community.