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Diseases » Asthma » Signs

Signs of Asthma

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma:

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...»

Symptoms of Asthma

The list of medical symptoms mentioned in various sources for Asthma may include:

Note that Asthma symptoms usually refers to various medical symptoms known to a patient, but the phrase Asthma signs may often refer to those signs that are only noticable by a doctor.

Signs or 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)

More Symptoms of Asthma:

More detailed symptom information may be found on the symptoms of Asthma article. In addition to the above medical information, to get a full picture of the possible signs or symptoms of this condition and also possibly the signs and symptoms of its related medical conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by:

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

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

What are the signs of Asthma?

The phrase "signs of Asthma" should, strictly speaking, refer only to those signs and symptoms of Asthma that are not readily apparent to the patient. The word "symptoms of Asthma" is the more general meaning; see symptoms of Asthma.

The signs and symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Asthma. This medical information about signs and symptoms 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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