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Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms of Asthma: Introduction

Asthma symptoms can range from mild to life threatening. The hallmark symptoms include shortness of breath and wheezing. Wheezing is a whistling sound that is created as air is forced through the narrowed airways in the lungs of a person with asthma. Wheezing is often heard when a person with asthma exhales, but may also be heard when a person inhales. Some wheezing can be heard by the naked ear, but it is not unusual to need to use a stethoscope to hear it. In severe cases, it may be difficult to hear wheezing because the airways have become so narrowed that there is not enough air moving through them to create the sound.

Other typical symptoms of asthma include chest tightness, cough, anxiety, restlessness, pallor of the skin, and a "retracting" of the muscles around the rib cage. When retractions happen, the ribcage appears to be working very hard and the muscles in and above it appear to be "sucking in" with every breath.

Early signs of an asthma attack can be subtle and can include restless, anxiety, and wheezing that cannot be heard by the naked ear. Asthma symptoms are generally more likely to occur at night.

Serious complications of asthma include pneumonia and hypoxia or low levels of oxygen in the blood. The most serious complications is respiratory arrest, which is fatal if not treated immediately....more about Asthma »

Asthma symptoms: The classic hallmark of asthma is wheezing. This is a whistling sound that is created as air is forced through the narrowed airways in the lungs of a person with asthma. It is often heard when a person with asthma exhales, but may also be heard when a person inhales. Some wheezing can be heard by the naked ear, but it is not unusual to need to use a stethoscope to hear it. In severe cases, it may be difficult to hear wheezing because the airway have become so narrowed that there is not enough air moving through them to create the sound.

Other typical symptoms include chest tightness, cough, shortness of breath, anxiety, restlessness, pallor of the skin, and a "retracting" of the muscles that surround and encase the rib cage. When retractions happen, the ribcage appears to be working very hard and the muscles in and above it appear to be "sucking in" with breathing. Early signs of an execration of asthma can be subtle and can include restless, anxiety, and wheezing that cannot be heard by the naked ear. Because it is always best to catch and treat an exacerbation of asthma early, learning to recognize the early symptoms of asthma is an important step on minimizing severe episodes....more about Asthma »

Symptoms of Asthma

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Asthma includes the 18 symptoms listed below:

Research symptoms & diagnosis of Asthma:

Asthma: Symptom Checkers

Review the available symptom checkers for these symptoms of Asthma:

Asthma: Symptom Assessment Questionnaires

Review the available Assessment Questionnaires for the symptoms of Asthma:

Asthma: Complications

Review medical complications possibly associated with Asthma:

Research More About Asthma

Do I have Asthma?

Asthma: Medical Mistakes

Asthma: Undiagnosed Conditions

Diseases that may be commonly undiagnosed in related medical areas:

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical tests related to Asthma:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Asthma?

The list of other diseases or medical conditions that may be on the differential diagnosis list of alternative diagnoses for Asthma includes:

Asthma: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.

More about symptoms of Asthma:

More information about symptoms of Asthma and related conditions:

Other Possible Causes of these Symptoms

Click on any of the symptoms below to see a full list of other causes including diseases, medical conditions, toxins, drug interactions, or drug side effect causes of that symptom.

Article Excerpts About Symptoms of Asthma:

Genes and Disease by the National Center for Biotechnology (Excerpt)

It is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. A variety of "triggers" may initiate or worsen an asthma attack, including viral respiratory infections, exercise, and exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke. The physiological symptoms of asthma are a narrowing of the airways caused by edema (fluid in the intracellular tissue space) and the influx of inflammatory cells into the walls of the airways. (Source: Genes and Disease by the National Center for Biotechnology)

Asthma A Concern for Minority Populations, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by episodes of airflow obstruction. Symptoms of an asthma attack include

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
(Source: excerpt from Asthma A Concern for Minority Populations, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Acute symptoms require prompt action to help students resume their activities as soon as possible. Prompt action is also required to prevent an episode from becoming more serious or even life-threatening. Table 3 lists the symptoms that indicate an acute asthma episode and the need for immediate action. The student's asthma plan and the school's emergency plan should be easily accessible so that all staff, substitutes, volunteers, and aides know what to do.

Table 3. Acute Symptoms Requiring Prompt Action
  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Chest tightness or pressure--reported by the student

  • Other signs, such as low peak flow readings as indicated on the asthma management plan.

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma (coughing, wheezing, pain or chest tightness) may last several minutes to an hour or more. These symptoms are quite different from breathlessness (deep, rapid breathing) that quickly returns to normal after aerobic exercise (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI)

NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Students may have symptoms that do not indicate an acute episode needing immediate treatment, but instead indicate that their asthma is not under complete control. Table 4 lists these signs.

Table 4. Signs That May Indicate Poorly Controlled Asthma
  • A persistent cough

  • Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath after vigorous physical activity, on a recurring basis

  • Low level of stamina during physical activity or reluctance to participate.
(Source: excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI)

Asthma as a Cause of Symptoms or Medical Conditions

When considering symptoms of Asthma, it is also important to consider Asthma as a possible cause of other medical conditions. The Disease Database lists the following medical conditions that Asthma may cause:

- (Source - Diseases Database)

Asthma as a symptom:

For a more detailed analysis of Asthma as a symptom, including causes, drug side effect causes, and drug interaction causes, please see our Symptom Center information for Asthma.

Medical articles and books on symptoms:

These general reference articles may be of interest in relation to medical signs and symptoms of disease in general:

About signs and symptoms of Asthma:

The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Asthma. This signs and symptoms information for Asthma has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of Asthma signs or Asthma symptoms. Furthermore, signs and symptoms of Asthma may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of any signs or symptoms and whether they are indeed Asthma symptoms.

 

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