The symptoms of asthma can range from mild to severe enough to require hospitalization. Asthma is caused by constricting and swelling of the airways (bronchospasms), making it difficult to breathe, and producing superfluous mucus. There is no cure for asthma, but its symptoms can be managed.
Many patients experience different asthma symptoms each time they suffer a flare-up (known as an asthma attack). Some patients experience symptoms in differing levels of severity with each attack– mild the first time and severe the next.
This is why some may not realize they are experiencing an asthma attack. In fact, they may not recognize that their asthma symptoms are getting worse.
Some people with asthma might have extended symptom-free periods, interrupted by periodic asthma episodes, while others have some symptoms every day. In addition, some people with asthma might only have symptoms during exercise, or when they are exposed to allergens or viral respiratory tract infections.
(see also: The 2012 Asthma Diet)
Common asthma symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma attack
- Excess mucus
- Chest pain
- Tightness in chest cavity
- Whistling sound during exhalation
- Difficulty sleeping because of breathing issues
- Frequent coughing, especially during the nighttime
- Weakness while exercising
- Breathing more difficult after exercising
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Mood swings
This is a condition where patients experience worsening asthma symptoms in the presence of:
- Chemical fumes
This is a condition where patients suffer worse asthma symptoms as a result of exposure to allergy triggers like pollen or pet dander.
This is a condition where patients experience a flare-up in their asthma symptoms following a period of strenuous exercise.
Signs of an Impending Asthma Attack
The following symptoms could be a red flag for an impending asthma attack:
- Symptoms becoming more frequent and severe
- Chest pain or pressure worsening
- Breathing becoming progressively more difficult
- Needing quick-relief inhaler relief more often
- Symptoms that won’t subside after using an inhaler
- Symptoms that won’t subside after using bronchodilator medications
- Coughing that lasts day and night
See your doctor right away if you experience any of the above symptoms. Do not take more medications to treat them without consulting your doctor first. Overusing asthma medications can make asthma worse.
Symptoms of Severe Asthma Attack
You need to seek immediate medical treatment if you experience any of these asthma symptoms:
- Worsened chest pain or pressure
- Severe wheezing (during inhalation and exhalation)
- Inability to catch your breath
- Tight chest muscles
- Unrelenting cough
- Very rapid breathing
- Trouble talking or inability to talk
- Pale face
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Inability to fully exhale
- Sweaty face
- Tight neck muscles
It is important to see your doctor regularly so that they can monitor your condition closely and determine if your asthma treatment regimen should be altered. With these timely appointments, your doctor can see if your condition is deteriorating.
Just because you may not be experiencing symptoms you recognize does not necessarily mean that your asthma conditioning has “disappeared” or improved. Being seen by a doctor greatly improves your chances of avoiding long-term damage and never experiencing fatal asthma attacks.