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Asthma and Allergies

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What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Asthma?

Symptoms of asthma strike when the airways undergo the three changes described above. Some people can go a long time between asthma episodes while others have some symptoms every day. Common symptoms of asthma include:

  • Frequent cough, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these asthma symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may also vary from one asthma episode to the next. Symptoms may be mild during one asthma episode and severe during another.

Mild asthma episodes are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe episodes are less common, but last longer and require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild symptoms to help prevent severe episodes and keep asthma in control.

If you suffer from allergies and asthma, a reaction to any offending allergy-causing substance can worsen asthma symptoms.

What Are the Early Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack?

Early warning signs start before the more prominent symptoms of asthma and are the earliest signs that a person's asthma is worsening. Early warning signs and symptoms of an asthma attack include:

  • Frequent cough, especially at night
  • Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath
  • Feeling very tired or weak when exercising, in addition to wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath
  • Decreases or changes in peak expiratory flow, a measurement of how fast air comes out of the lungs when you exhale forcefully
  • Signs of a cold or other upper respiratory infections, or allergies
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you have any of these asthma symptoms, seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent experiencing a severe asthma attack.

Who Gets Asthma?

Anyone can get asthma, although it tends to run in families. An estimated 20 million adults and children in the U.S. have asthma. The disease is becoming more widespread.

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