What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma?

What Are The Signs Of Asthma?

The common symptoms of asthma are:

• Wheezy (noisy) breathing
• Coughing, especially at night
• Tightness in the chest
• Shortness of breath

• Tiredness or weakness when exercising
• Sometimes there is vomiting during an asthma attack, especially in children, because the over-expanded lungs put a great deal of pressure on the stomach
• A few asthmatics suffer narrowing in the trachea (the upper part of the windpipe) rather than in the airways lower down, and therefore feel as if they are
being strangled.

Symptoms may begin on exposure to a trigger (such as exercise or dust) or may develop slowly over a number hours. It's not uncommon for a person to suffer an attack in the middle of the night. In some people an asthma attack may take the form of a persistent cough - and breathing difficulties only develop if the cough goes untreated. See also: When is a cough asthma?

Bronchospasm is just the endpoint of the disease process in asthma, a process which begins with inflammation of the lining of the airways. Although the airway muscles relax when an asthma attack is over, and you therefore feel much better, the underlying inflammation of the airways remains. Airway inflammation may be caused, or partially caused, by allergy. Among asthmatic children, allergies are detected in 80-90 percent. Inflammation makes the lining of the airways swell up, which itself narrows the airways a little. The inflamed airway lining often makes more mucus than usual, in an effort to protect itself (this is basically a healthy response - mucus works like a sponge mopping up irritating dust particles so that they can be ejected by coughing - but it's excessive in asthma). This mucus can clog up the airways even more. Finally, the inflamed airways send nerve impulses direct to the airway muscles telling them to contract.

Mucus Alert

Muscus in lungs from asthma|
In this picture, the patients airway became blocked with mucus.
The mucus had formed a plug.

Asthmatic mucus (phlegm) is white or clear, and sometimes frothy. Greenish or yellowish mucus indicates an infection and should be reported to your doctor. In severe cases of asthma, a lump of mucus forms a plug and can completely block an airway, leading part of the lung to collapse. It is vital to clear mucus from the lungs, and a physiotherapist can help with this.

Next: What is the treatment for asthma?

Asthma Questions

What is asthma? An easy to understand definition.
What causes asthma? Discover if it runs in families.
How is asthma diagnosed? Testing for the condition.
When is asthma not asthma? Other things that can mimic symptoms.
What triggers an asthma attack? Top 10 most common triggers.
What is an asthma diet? Power foods to help prevent asthma.
What is the best exercise for asthma? Yoga, walking, swimming.

• Got another question? See: Allergy Questions

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