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Understanding Asthma -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma symptoms include episodes of:

  • Tightness or pressure in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound that occurs when exhaling)
  • Coughing, especially at night

Early warning signs of the onset of an asthma attack include:

Understanding Asthma

  • Signs of a cold
  • Frequent cough, especially at night
  • The need to use a rescue inhaler
  • Losing your breath easily (exercise-induced bronchospasm)
  • A decrease in lung function, as measured by a spirometer or peak flow meter

Call Your Doctor About Asthma If:

  • You or another person is experiencing an asthma attack for the first time. Asthma can quickly become serious if not treated promptly and properly.
  • Your rescue inhaler (usually albuterol) does not work to relieve symptoms within 20 minutes.
  • You or the person with asthma cannot talk in complete sentences. Other things to look for: flaring nostrils; the skin between the ribs is sucked in with each breath; the lips or the skin under the nails appear grayish or bluish. These are all signs of extreme oxygen deprivation. Get immediate emergency treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on February 28, 2015
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