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Asthma Complexities (cont.)

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Unusual symptoms of asthma

Patients suffering from episodes of asthma do not always have the typical symptoms of asthma such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing (symptoms of airway narrowing). Instead, patients can have symptoms that may not appear to be related to asthma. These "unusual" asthma symptoms include

  • rapid breathing,
  • sighing,
  • fatigue and inability to exercise properly,
  • difficulty sleeping,
  • anxiety and difficulty concentrating,
  • chronic cough without wheezing,
  • protracted cough after an upper respiratory illness,
  • recurrent diagnosis of walking pneumonia, and
  • noises emanating from the chest usually during exhalation.

To complicate matters, symptoms of asthma are not consistent and often vary from time to time in an individual. In some patients, symptoms are influenced by diurnal factors; for example, some patients experience asthma primarily at night (nocturnal asthma) rather than during the day. Furthermore, episodes of asthma can be triggered by many different factors such as allergens, dust, smoke, perfumes, cold air, exercise, infections, medications, and acid reflux. Finally, other illness such as heart failure, bronchitis, and dysfunction of the vocal cords can cause symptoms that mimic those of asthma. For these reasons, accurately diagnosing and treating asthma can be a challenge.

For a comprehensive review of symptoms, causes, and treatments of asthma, and for a better understanding of the normal anatomy of the airways (trachea, bronchi, bronchioles and the lung), please visit the asthma article.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/20/2017


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