The signs and symptoms of asthma can vary from very mild to very severe. Some people with asthma may have seasonal bouts of symptoms whereas others can have symptoms after exposure to trigger factor such as after exercise or exposure to a factor to which they are allergic such as a dog or cat. Some people can have a chronic disease and may experience asthma symptoms almost daily.
During an "asthma episode," or an "asthma attack," the symptoms develop (or increase in severity) due to reversible obstruction to the normal flow of air through the air passages which makes breathing difficult. The flow of air through narrowed air passage makes a whistling or wheezing sound. Read to know more on the signs and symptoms of asthma.
- Coughing: Coughing worse at night or early in the morning which makes it hard to sleep. But this sign may be easily overlooked.
- Wheezing: Wheezing is a whistling noise heard when the person breathes; flow of air through narrowed air passage makes a whistling or wheezing sound.
- Tightness of the chest: Some people can feel a tightness of the chest, or that something is squeezing or sitting on the chest due to over-inflation of the lungs during an asthma attack.
- Shortness of breath: That is the person may feel he can't catch on his breath (that is one breath has barely finished before another is needed). This makes the person feel out of breath.
- Mucus production: The inflammation of the airways and the production of excessive, thick mucus which causes obstruction of the airways, causes coughing.
People with asthma do not have all the signs and symptoms and similarly having these symptoms doesn't confirm the diagnosis of asthma. Your doctor will do certain tests such as lung function test, and take a detailed medical history (including type and frequency of symptoms), and do a physical exam to diagnose asthma. The symptoms of asthma can progress rapidly and can even be fatal. Hence it is important to treat the symptoms in their initial stages so that they don't become severe. Treatment for asthma can be very effective and you can expect to have few, if any, symptoms either during the day or at night if you comply with treatment.