Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Triggers And Treatment

Asthma is when a person’s airways become inflamed, constrict, bulge, and create excessive mucus, making breathing difficult. Asthma may result in a life-threatening attack in some situations. Asthma is commonly treated with inhalers like a generic Combivent to relieve symptoms and controller inhalers to prevent symptoms. Longer-acting inhalers that keep the airways open and inhalant steroids are essential in severe instances.

Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Asthma

Any allergic reaction to something in your surroundings that your immune system perceives as “foreign” to your body triggers asthma. As a result of an allergy, the immune system overreacts by creating excessive IgE chemicals throughout the body. IgE antibodies cause extrinsic asthma attacks.

IgE is usually only implicated locally, within the airway channels, in intrinsic asthma. Any asthma not caused by an allergy is known as intrinsic asthma.


While the exact cause of asthma is unknown, there are several instances of other conditions causing or exaggerating asthma.

  • Sinus infection
  • Sinusitis
  • Tooth or gum infections
  • Throat infection
  • Bronchitis
  • Common cold
  • Nasal polyps
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure

Experts believe a mix of hereditary and environmental variables contribute to asthma development. Researchers now believe that the causes of intrinsic and extrinsic asthma are more comparable than previously thought, although additional research is needed.

The muscles in the airways stiffen, and the membranes lining the airways become irritated and swollen, producing a thick mucus during an asthma episode. An asthma attack occurs when the airways become more narrowed.


Unlike extrinsic asthma, caused by well-known allergens, various non-allergy-related variables can cause intrinsic asthma.

Intrinsic asthma also has non-health-condition-related triggers. These triggers include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Scented hygiene products
  • Air pollution
  • Dust
  • Food additives
  • Wood smoke
  • Charcoal grills
  • Perfumes
  • Airborne chemicals
  • Drastic changes in weather conditions
  • Dry wind
  • Cold air
  • Vigorous exercise (called exercise-induced asthma)
  • Crying, shouting, laughing
  • Drugs (aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)


Your primary health care physician would most likely refer you to an allergist for a diagnosis of your non-allergic asthma. For intrinsic asthma, there is no specific test. In addition to your general medical history, the doctor will inquire about your symptoms and when they occur to determine the root reason. Extrinsic asthma often develops in childhood or early adulthood, whereas intrinsic asthma most commonly develops in middle life and beyond.

Unlike those with extrinsic asthma, people with intrinsic asthma frequently have a negative allergy skin test. Hence allergy injections and drugs are often ineffective.


Intrinsic asthma medications are used to both prevent and treat attacks. Your doctor will prescribe the most appropriate medication for you and your physiology.

Extrinsic and intrinsic asthma have similar treatment options, including drugs, lifestyle changes, and avoiding triggers. However, the preventative techniques may differ depending on the causes.


You can use the following drugs to treat both intrinsic and extrinsic asthma flare-ups:

  • Short-Acting Bronchodilators

Short-acting bronchodilators, often known as quick-relief medicines, work quickly to alleviate symptoms. They function by relaxing the airway muscles. A bronchodilator, Combivent, is used to open up the airways. It is a type of drug that you inhale to assist open up airways in your lungs. Before your doctor can prescribe Combivent, you must already be using an aerosol bronchodilator. Combivent or generic of combivent has ipratropium and albuterol as active components. The generic drugs ipratropium and albuterol help treat COPD. The generic medicine, however, is not the same as Combivent, an inhaler. Instead, the generic medicine is a solution (liquid combination) inhaled through a nebulizer. Then, the medication turns into a mist you inhale through a mask or mouthpiece.

  • Long-Acting Bronchodilators

They are for daily usage to open up the airways. However, because long-acting bronchodilators take longer to work, they do not alleviate immediate symptoms.

  • Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the airways. People usually use inhaled steroids daily to regulate their asthma symptoms, and they will take oral steroids if their asthma flares up suddenly.

  • Omalizumab

It is an anti-IgE antibody that stops IgE from being released. Reduced IgE reduces allergic reactions and alleviates asthma symptoms.


While dealing with a chronic illness like asthma can be frustrating, concentrating on your overall health can help. Incorporate physical activity and stress-reduction strategies into your daily routine. Asthma is a highly manageable disease that you can control with the appropriate medication like the FDA-approved generic of Combivent and lifestyle adjustments.