Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma symptoms may differ somewhat in adults and children. In addition, severity and duration of symptoms vary from mild to severe.
Common asthma symptoms include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Warning Signs of an Impending Asthma Attack
There are warning signs that signal an impending asthma attack. By learning to recognize these early symptoms as warning signs, you can help prevent attacks or reduce their severity.
- Increased shortness of breath and wheezing
- Chest tightness or pain
- An increased need to use bronchodilators
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
- Frequent coughing or cough spasms
- Waking up coughing in the night
- Shortness of breath while stationery or exercising
- Feelings of tightness in the chest
- Restless sleep patterns
What Happens During an Asthma Attack?
Exposure to asthma triggers can cause airways to contract and become inflamed, narrowed, and clogged with mucus. Less room is available for air to flow in and out of the lungs. The duration of the asthma attack varies. Attacks range from mild to severe and last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. During attacks, bronchial muscles go into spasm, causing air to be trapped in tiny air breathing sacs in the lungs, called alveoli. Asthma attacks may be fatal if not identified and treated.
Airway Narrowed Due to Mucus Plugs
American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.acaai.org/ . Accessed July, 2008.
American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=22542 . Accessed July, 2008.
Asthma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Braunwald E. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2001.
Last reviewed September 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.