Skip to content

    Asthma Health Center

    Font Size

    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

    Find out more about asthma:



    Diagnosis and Treatment


    • 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

    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
    woman wearing cpap mask
    red wine pouring into glass
    Woman holding inhaler
    Man outdoors coughing
    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    10 Worst Asthma Cities