An asthma attack (also called an acute asthma episode, flare-up, or exacerbation) is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing.
Although asthma attacks may seem to occur suddenly, they usually occur after several days of increasing symptoms. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe. Episodes can be brief (about an hour) or last for several days.
Asthma attacks can be serious, but they can usually be treated at home by using quick-relief medicine and an increased dose of controller medicine. In severe asthma attacks, it may be necessary to contact a doctor or seek emergency care.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise