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Asthma Symptoms in Adults and Children

Jun 6, 2008
Asthma symptoms vary in severity from occasional mild bouts of breathlessness to daily wheezing that persists despite taking large doses of medication. After exposure to asthma triggers, symptoms rarely develop abruptly but progress over a period of hours or days. Occasionally, the airways have become seriously obstructed by the time the patient calls the doctor.

Asthma Symptoms in adults

Asthma symptoms start when allergens or other irritants cause the lining of the airways to swell (become inflamed) and narrow. The muscles around the airways can then spasm, (contract rapidly), causing the airways to narrow even more. When the lining of the airways is inflamed, it produces more mucus. The mucus clogs the airways and further blocks the flow of air. This is called an "asthma attack."

Different people have different signs and symptoms of asthma. Asthma signs and symptoms are also variable - they can change over time or depending on the situation

Asthma Symptoms - Chest Tightness

Some asthmatics may experience chest tightness. Chest tightness is a squeezing feeling in the chest during respiration. It may feel as though someone is sitting on your chest.

Shortness of breath (dyspnea). Shortness of breath is a major source of distress in patients with asthma. However, the severity of this symptom does not always reflect the degree to which lung function is impaired. Some patients are not even aware that they are experiencing shortness of breath. Such patients are at particular risk for very serious and even life-threatening asthma attacks, since they are less conscious of symptoms. Those at highest risk for this effect tend to be older, female, and to have had the disease for a longer period of time.

Symptoms of Asthma in children

Coughing and wheezing - Symptoms of asthma in children include coughing and wheezing. The cough is usually dry and hacking and is most noticeable while the child sleeps and during early morning hours. It may also be triggered by exercise. Wheezing is a high-pitched noise that is usually heard when the child breathes out.

Coughing and wheezing tends to come and go during the day or night, depending upon the degree of airway narrowing in the lungs. Breathlessness, chest tightness or pressure, and chest pain may also occur. In addition to coughing or wheezing, a child may report that their chest or stomach hurts

When asthma symptoms become severe, you will be unable to perform regular activities. If you have late, severe symptoms, follow the "Red Zone" or emergency instructions in the Asthma Action Plan immediately. These symptoms occur in life-threatening asthma episodes. You need medical help right away.
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