Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects over 25 million people in the United States alone, with 7 million of them being children. The numbers tell us of how many people are suffering from recurring periods of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, among others.
When a person has asthma, his or her airways are inflamed in a way that they become very sensitive to irritants or other foreign substances. Exposure to these will tighten the muscles, narrow the airways, and eventually trigger asthma symptoms—all of which can lead to terrible outcomes when not identified and managed promptly.
Coughing is a common symptom among asthma patients, which is often worse at night or early in the morning. Coughing is the body’s natural reflex to clear out irritants in the airways and prevent infection. Since the airways are swollen and more sensitive to such irritants, the body responds by coughing more frequently.
If you’ve been taking cough medications to no avail, there could be an underlying reason that your coughing has not subsided, which includes asthma. It is recommended to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor so it can be treated appropriately.
Tiredness and Fatigue
While you don’t commonly see fatigue as an asthma symptom, it can definitely happen to patients. Since the body is working double to breathe properly, it gets easily tired and weak. This feeling of persistent exhaustion may also be due to having low oxygen levels most of the time, especially when an asthma is poorly controlled. This often results to inadequate rest or poor quality of sleep during the night, affecting one’s daily functioning during the day.
Shortness of Breath
Since the airways constrict and narrow during an asthma attack, the patient experiences shortness of breath. This asthma symptom may be triggered by vigorous physical activity or an allergic reaction to an irritant. This difficulty in breathing may accompany other symptoms such as fast breathing or chest pain and tightness.
If you’ve been experiencing shortness of breath for a long time now, your doctor may perform specific tests to diagnose asthma, which includes chest X-ray, pulse oximetry, or an electrocardiogram using EKG sensors.
Flared Nostrils During Breathing
Some warning signs of asthma are more serious than the others, which require immediate professional care. Aside from difficulty in catching one’s breath or even in just talking, these serious warning symptoms include flaring nostrils as you breathe as well as sucking in one’s chest or stomach with every labored breath. In more serious cases, the patient may also experience a bluish or grayish tinge to the lips or fingernails, which means there is not enough oxygen circulating to the different parts of the body.
If you get any of these alarming symptoms, call 911 right away as these are clear signs of a critical asthma attack.
When to See a Doctor
The signs and symptoms of asthma may vary from every individual. They may occur only at certain times for some or occur all the time for others. Whatever the case, it is important to seek medical advice upon noticing these symptoms to have your condition properly diagnosed and get an effective treatment plan sorted out for you.
For people who are already diagnosed with the chronic respiratory condition, don’t hesitate to seek emergency treatment when severe asthma attacks occur or if your maintenance medications do not seem to ease such symptoms. Don’t use asthma medication more than what’s prescribed as this could make the condition worse.
Remember, warning signs are there for a reason, and that is to give you a heads-up that your body needs appropriate medical attention.
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