Some asthma symptoms may develop days before breathing tests show a significant decrease in lung function. Yet in some situations, the symptoms develop suddenly. The most common symptoms of asthma or an attack include:
What should you do if you have any of these asthma warning signs? Ideally, you and your doctor should have already worked out an asthma action plan. This is a simple set of steps to follow when you have asthma symptoms. Your asthma action plan may include measuring your breathing capacity with a device called a spirometer and taking a dose of quick relief inhaler medication. Your doctor may also want you to change the dose of your daily maintenance therapy to help control your asthma.
If you have asthma, you need to do what you can to reduce your exposure to asthma triggers. Asthma triggers can aggravate your asthma symptoms -- coughing, wheezing, and difficulty catching your breath. While there’s no asthma cure, there are steps you can take to keep your asthma in control and prevent an asthma attack (worsening of asthma symptoms).
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Keep in mind that anaphylaxis often develops quickly after exposure to the allergen -- possibly within minutes. If you know you’re at risk for anaphylaxis, your doctor should have prescribed an epinephrine injection kit for emergencies (usually two pens). Always carry it with you and do not hesitate to use it to inject yourself, even if you are unsure that your symptoms are allergy related.