Common Signs & Symptoms of Asthma

8 Signs of Asthma You Shouldn’t Ignore

Asthma is a potentially life-threatening condition, but the symptoms are not always obvious. While many people associate a chronic cough with asthma or the distinctive wheezing, there are actually many signs you may have asthma that are more difficult to notice. Also known as bronchial asthma, symptoms of the condition can vary by person and depend on the type of asthma. Bronchial asthma treatment is generally based on the patient’s symptoms, the individual’s triggers, and what form of asthma the patient has.

Common Signs & Symptoms of Asthma

Common Symptoms of Asthma

You may have asthma if you have several of the following symptoms.

  • Chest tightness. Difficulty breathing and tightness in your chest after physical activity may be a sign of heart problems — or asthma. As the muscles around the airway constrict, it can make the chest feel tight.
  • Chronic cough. A cough that never seems to go away may be a sign of asthma, not bronchitis. When it’s caused by asthma, the cough usually becomes worse after lying down or laughing and it comes from the chest.
  • Periodic difficulty breathing. Some people suffer from asthma attacks when symptoms become worse and breathing becomes difficult.
  • You sigh or take deep breaths frequently. These breathing behaviors may be an unconscious effort to get more oxygen into your blood and correct an imbalance caused by constricted airways.
  • Difficulty sleeping. Asthma constricts the airways and this can reduce sleep quality or make it hard to fall asleep.
  • Changes in lung function. If you develop asthma, you may have a change or decrease in lung function on a peak flow meter test.
  • Exhaustion while exercising. Asthma can create a feeling of exhaustion or weakness while exercising.
  • Shortness of breath. Many people with asthma feel like they cannot catch their breath, like they cannot get air out of their lungs, or out of breath.

What Triggers Asthma Symptoms?

Everyone with asthma has their own triggers that worsen or cause asthma symptoms. Common asthma triggers include:

  • Sulfites in food
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Physical activity
  • Irritants like cigarette smoke
  • Allergens like dust, pollen, and pet dander
  • Medicine like aspirin

Types of Asthma

Asthma is a very common condition, but there are actually several types of asthma, some more common than others. Each type of asthma can be triggered by different stimuli and all require a different treatment approach.

Allergic asthma is one of the most common forms and it flares up when someone is exposed to an allergen like pet danger or pollen. Asthma allergy treatments usually focus on determining what the patient is allergic to and should avoid in addition to an inhaled corticosteroid prescription.

Sometimes asthma is not triggered by an allergy but an upper respiratory infection like flu or rhinovirus. These cases usually respond to a short course of inhaled corticosteroids until the infection has passed.

Exercise-induced asthma is another form of asthma that is triggered by sports or physical exertion, leading to difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and coughing. In this case, the symptoms improve when the physical activity is stopped. This form of asthma is usually treated with an inhaled broncodilator before exercise and vitamin C.

Cough variant asthma affects children and adults. This type of asthma produces a dry hacking cough. In fact, the chronic cough is often the only symptom of the disorder. The most appropriate chronic asthma treatment usually includes vitamin D and inhaled corticosteroids.

While some types of asthma can be effectively managed with over-the-counter treatments, severe asthma treatment almost always includes prescription medication.