font size

Asthma Overview (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?

The classic signs and symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, cough (often worse at night), and wheezing (high-pitched whistling sound produced by turbulent airflow through narrow airways, typically with exhalation). Many patients also report chest tightness. It is important to note that these symptoms are episodic, and individuals with asthma can go long periods of time without any symptoms.

Common triggers for asthmatic symptoms include exposure to allergens (pets, dust mites, cockroach, molds, and pollens), exercise, and viral infections. Tobacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke complicates asthma management.

Many of the symptoms of asthma are nonspecific and can be seen in other conditions as well. Symptoms that might suggest conditions other than asthma include new symptom onset in older age, the presence of associated symptoms (such as chest discomfort, lightheadedness, palpitations, and fatigue), and lack of response to appropriate medications for asthma.

The physical exam in asthma is often completely normal. Occasionally, wheezing is present. In an asthma exacerbation, the respiratory rate increases, the heart rate increases, and the work of respiration increases. Individuals often require accessory muscles to breathe, and breath sounds can be diminished. It is important to note that the blood oxygen level typically remains fairly normal even in the midst of a significant asthma exacerbation. Low blood oxygen level is therefore concerning for impending respiratory failure.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Asthma - Symptoms Question: What kind of asthma symptoms do you experience?
Asthma - Action Plan Question: Do you have an asthma action plan?
Asthma - Medications Question: Which medications do you use to control your asthma?
Asthma - Causes Question: Are family history, obesity, exposure to cigarette smoke, or other factors a cause of your asthma?
Asthma - Types Question: What type of asthma do you have? Please share your story.
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/asthma_overview/article.htm

Allergies & Asthma

Improve treatments & prevent attacks.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations