What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, causes breathing difficulty in affected people. There is no cure for asthma; the only thing you can do is keeping it under control.

While the root cause of asthma is still a mystery, several groundbreaking recent studies have come up with some new findings. These studies demonstrate that a number of environmental and biological factors are associated for developing asthma.

Image of an asthma inhaler

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms range from mild to severe. Although the disease affects people of all ages but is very common among newborns and children -- especially those who are born with a low birth weight, have exposed to cigarette smoke, are black, and are grown up in a poor environment. Learn why children develop asthma.

Symptoms of asthma usually vary from person to person. You may experience completely different symptoms than others. One of the major reasons for that is our biological differences, as every human being is different in his/her biological set-up and lifestyle. Therefore, some people may experience an asthma attack with one or more symptoms while some others may experience it without any identified symptoms.

While not all people with the disease experience the same symptoms, but in most cases the early signs appear just before an asthma attack.

Common Signs and Symptoms of asthma include:
  • Frequent nighttime cough,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Restless sleep or breathing difficulty during sleep,
  • Quick tiredness with any kind of physical work,
  • Chest tightness or pain,
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic,
  • Decreased flow rate in Peak Expiratory Test of lung, and
  • Hypersensitivity to common cold and allergies - inflamed skin, dark circles under the eyes, persistent runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing.
Mild asthma attacks are usually most common in patients with asthma. But with preventive measures, an asthmatic can easily keep the symptoms under control. On the other hand, severe asthma attacks are less common and can be life threatening. They can create an emergency where the asthmatic may need an immediate medical attention.

Mild asthma often doesn't come up with severe signs and symptoms, so you may not find any difficulty continuing your daily activities. However, the severity of an asthma attack can worsen drastically. Therefore, it is necessary for you to recognize these signs and symptoms and take preventive measures before your asthma worsen.

Asthma Triggers

Allergens, airborne irritants, viral infection, changes in the weather, sulfites in foods and drinks, some medicines, unhealthy lifestyle, and physical exercise have been identified as potential triggers for an asthma attack. Learn more about asthma triggers.

When to See a Doctor

If you are having breathing difficulty and experiencing any of the asthma symptoms mentioned above, consider consulting with your GP or an asthma specialist. Your GP may prescribe some medications and may suggest an action plan to control and prevent further asthma attacks. Image source: NIAID, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr

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