The Signs and Symptoms of Asthma: Everything You Should Know

Asthma is a condition of inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This increases the production of sticky fluid inside the tubes. As a result, airways get tightened, inflamed and filled with mucus. This makes the patients suffer from symptoms like −

  • Incessant coughing

  • Wheezing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tightening of chest or increased pressure on chest

However, not every patient experienced the same symptoms. You may have all the symptoms, while you may experience only one or few. You may experience one symptom at one time and another symptom at a different time. Similarly, you may have a mild one or severe symptom depending on several factors.

In some circumstances, you may have asthma, but you won’t experience any symptoms for a long time. In some cases, your asthma may worsen periodically. This is known as asthma attacks. Meanwhile, some people may experience asthma the whole day. Alternatively, some people only experience it specific circumstances. This includes during exercise and a viral infection like cold.

People with asthma often gets mild attacks. This involves your airways opening up within a few minutes and remains open for a few hours. Getting a severe asthma attacks is rare. However, such attacks lasts longer and you must seek immediate medical attention.

Therefore, you need to prevent even the mild asthma attacks. Otherwise, it could lead to severe episodes.

Early Signs of Asthma

As mentioned earlier, asthma can go unnoticed in some people. That’s why you need to know the early signs of asthma so to get into therapy sooner.

Generally, these early asthmatic symptoms are not severe. That’s why you most people didn’t pay much attention.

Some of the Early Signs of Asthma Involves −

  • Frequent cough (especially at night)

  • Feeling tired and upset most of the time

  • Feeling tired and week during exercise or strenuous activities

  • Losing breath easily

  • Wheezing or coughing after exercise

  • Decreased lung function on a peak flow meter

  • Feeling of having a cold or allergies such as nasal congestion, headache, sore throat, runny nose, and sneezing

Symptoms of an Asthma Attack

As asthma attack happens when your muscles around your airways get tightened. This is known as bronchospasm. When you have an asthma attack the lining around your airways get inflamed or swollen. The cells lining in the airways further produces thicker and greater quantity of mucus.

The bronchospasm, inflammation and mucus production creates uncomfortable symptoms like −

  • Non-stop coughing

  • Chest pain

  • Tightening of neck and chest muscles

  • Pale and sweaty face

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Severe wheezing

  • Blue lips or fingernails

  • Rapid breathing

Some Rare Symptoms of Asthma

  • Not all asthmatic patients experience the same symptoms. Some symptoms of asthma are rare and unusual. This includes −

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Sighing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Unable to exercise properly

It’s important to treat the asthma attack right away by taking your inhaler or bronchodilator. This is because the severity of an asthma attack can go 1-10 within a small time.

Your breathing become more difficult, labored and painful if not treated instantly. Some people think if the wheezing stops, the patient is fine. Actually it’s not. During the attack, your lungs will continue to tighten. As a result, there will be little to no air movement to produce wheezing. That’s why, the patient must be treated right away even if the wheezing stop.

Asthma Symptoms in Children

Around 10-12% children in the United States are affected by Asthma. Most children experience their first symptoms at the age of 5.

Most children with asthma doesn’t wheeze. However, you might notice chronic cough.

What can Trigger Your Asthma Symptoms?

Asthma can trigger through a virus or bacterial infection or an allergen. For example, a cold virus, and bacterial sinus infection.

Factors that can trigger your asthma includes −

  • Sinus infection

  • Allergies

  • Pollens

  • Breathing chemicals

  • Acid reflux

  • Certain medications

  • Bad weather such as high humidity or thunderstorms

  • Breathing dry or cold air

  • Certain foods or food additives

  • Certain fragrances

How to Prevent and Treat Asthma Symptoms?

Unfortunately, there are no cures for asthma. However, you can easily manage it through taking appropriate steps.

Preventing asthma symptoms −

Avoid asthma triggers and allergens.

Get vaccinated for conditions affecting your respiratory system. Getting flu vaccine every year can safeguard you from flu and colds.

Follow your asthma action plan religiously. Try to stay in the green/go zone. If you have trouble staying in the zone, contact your doctor.

Take your asthma medication as directed. Your doctor may prescribe medication for everyday or for occasional purpose. It depends on the severity of your condition.

Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated all the time. Dehydration is an enemy that you need to beat every day. Always take at least 200ml of water every hour.


Take your quick-relief medicine as soon as you saw the symptoms. An asthma attack can happen anytime. Therefore, it’s important to carry your inhaler or bronchodilator and medications all the time. If you symptoms are not improving after taking the medicine, you must seek immediate medical help.

Updated on: 24-Apr-2023


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