Symptoms of Asthma
One of the most common diseases in the US, asthma affects over 17 million Americans, and one-third of cases are diagnosed in children. Knowing the asthma symptoms is important for several reasons. It makes you aware of those serious signs and symptoms that require urgent treatment in the hospital, and you will be able to help your doctor better understand your condition and adjust medication accordingly.
Symptoms vary from individual to individual and can range from mild to severe. Some will have only occasional, mild symptoms, while others will have almost constant symptoms with severe, sometimes life-threatening flare-ups.
The following are six of the common symptoms of asthma. These occur because the airways became inflamed and narrowed, blocking the normal flow of air.
Wheezing, when breathing makes a whistling or hissing noise, is the most common symptom of an asthma attack. This sound is commonly heard when you breathe out, but sometimes (in more severe cases) it may be experienced during inhalation as well.
The diagnosis of asthma cannot be made based on wheezing alone, and some asthmatics will not experience wheezing at all. In some cases, wheezing will be absent because of severe limitation of the airflow during a flare-up and because the respiratory muscles are fatigued. In addition, wheezing can occur in other conditions as well, like hay fever or COPD.
Wheezing indicates obstruction in the small airways of the respiratory tract. An episode of wheezing can happen anytime but is more likely in the morning when the protective effects of anti-asthma drugs wear off. It can start suddenly, along with cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath during a flare-up, or can come on gradually over days or hours.
In exercise-induced asthma, wheezing will typically start during or after exercise, and in nocturnal asthma, it will be experienced during the night.
ResourcesMerck Manuals (Asthma)WebMD (What Is Cough-Variant Asthma?)Merck Manuals (Asthma in Children)Sleep Foundation (Asthma and Sleep)
Occupational asthma can be developed when irritants are inhaled on the job. Jobs at risk include construction, painting and farming.