Skip to content

    Asthma Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?

    People with asthma experience symptoms when the airways tighten, become inflamed, or fill with mucus. Common symptoms of asthma include:

    • Coughing, especially at night
    • Wheezing
    • Shortness of breath
    • 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 symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one asthma attack and severe during another.

    Recommended Related to Asthma

    Outgrowing Asthma: Is Remission Possible?

    At 14, Alyssa Flanagan’s asthma symptoms all but disappeared. Since the age of 4, she had been hospitalized a few times each year -- once in the intensive care unit - when her colds turned into coughing, wheezy pneumonias. Asthma loomed large in her life. “The simplest explanation is that I’ve outgrown it, or for some reason, there was an immune trigger that’s not present anymore,” says Flanagan, now a 30-year-old medical resident at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Flanagan says she’s aware...

    Read the Outgrowing Asthma: Is Remission Possible? article > >

    Some people with asthma may go for extended periods without having any symptoms but experience periodic worsening of their symptoms in the form of asthma attacks; others have some symptoms every day. In addition, some people with asthma may only have symptoms during exercise or when they are exposed to allergy-causing substances or viral infections like colds. Some people might have multiple triggers for their asthma attacks.

    Mild asthma attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours after using a rescue medication and addressing the trigger. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and often require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes, keep asthma under better control, and prevent a mild attack from developing into a severe one.

    Are There Early Signs of an Asthma Attack?

    Early warning signs are changes that happen just before or at the very beginning of an asthma attack. These changes start before the well-known symptoms of asthma and are the earliest signs that your asthma is worsening.

    In general, these signs are not severe enough to stop you from going about your daily activities. But by recognizing these signs, you can stop an asthma attack or prevent one from getting worse. Early warning signs include:

    If you have early warning signs or symptoms, you should take asthma medication as described in your asthma action plan. Remember, mild attacks can quickly progress to a severe attack.

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

    Start Now

    Today on WebMD

    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    5 common triggers.
    group jogging in park
    Should you avoid fitness activities?
     
    asthma inhaler
    Learn about your options.
    man feeling faint
    What’s the difference?
     
    Madison Wisconsin Capitol
    Slideshow
    woman wearing cpap mask
    Article
     
    red wine pouring into glass
    Slideshow
    Woman holding inhaler
    Quiz
     
    Man outdoors coughing
    Article
    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    Article
     
    10 Worst Asthma Cities
    Slideshow
    runner
    Article