Your Guide to Common Asthma Symptoms

Although they can be very varied, asthma symptoms occur in both mild, moderate or severe episodes. Being aware of them is of great help in diagnosing the disease from home and thus knowing when to go to the doctor to start treatment.
Your Guide to Common Asthma Symptoms

Last update: 17 June, 2021

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways. During a typical attack, they become inflamed and secrete mucus, which prevents air from circulating normally. Although there’s no cure, it can be treated with great efficiency, and so getting to know common asthma symptoms is a very important step towards making an initial diagnosis.

Although asthma usually goes through periods of remission, it’s actually a disease that patients have to learn to live with.

An early diagnosis, during the first years of life, is very helpful in order to get to know how to deal with chronic attacks if they occur. All of this is a lot easier if you’re familiar with its symptoms, both the frequent and the less common.

Common symptoms of asthma

Many studies and investigations have clearly shown the prevalence of asthma in the world. Symptoms vary according to each region, as well as environmental, infectious or allergic catalysts. Despite this, we know that the most common are the following:


Asthma symptoms include wheezing
Wheezing is very obvious to both the patient and the doctors.

The sound that asthmatic patients make when they breathe is called wheezing. It’s perhaps the most characteristic sign of the disease and is usually the sign for those who suffer from it to decide to go to a specialist to get treatment. It occurs when exhaling, although, depending on gravity, it can also occur when inhaling.

Wheezing is frequently used as a diagnosis of the disease during the first years of life, accompanied, of course, by other elements such as family history, medical history, allergic symptoms and other signs. The pediatrician must be careful, as we know that not all wheezing is a symptom of asthma.

This also applies to adults. The frequency of episodes of this type during the year, their intensity, and their relationship with some other condition are all key to determining whether they’re caused by asthma.

Chest tightness

Inflammation of the bronchial tubes can lead to chest tightness, a symptom of asthma that can also lead to another complication: anxiety. Those who suffer from the disease feel that their chest is being compressed, that the air doesn’t completely enter, or that, when it does, it doesn’t circulate freely.

It’s common for tightness or pain to worsen in certain positions, which can affect the quality of life of those affected. The anxiety generated by oppression can lead to panic attacks, especially if this is the first time they have experienced a severe bout, or if the person doesn’t know that they have asthma.

Absence of air

Another of the most common asthma symptoms is closely related to the previous one. This sign is described as feeling like you’re a fish out of water: no matter how many gulps of air the person takes, only a tiny portion reaches their lungs.

People may develop shortness of breath suddenly, or after a catalyst. For example, doing moderate or intense exercise can cause episodes of this type in asthmatic patients. Dust, humidity, strong odors, fumes, gases, or allergies are also triggers.

Sleep disorders

All of the above symptoms can generate sleep disorders, a symptom that conditions quality of life from another angle. Its incidence in childhood asthma has been studied, although, of course, it also occurs during adulthood.

The disorders are generated because many patients report the inability to breathe when resting in a horizontal position. Due to this they choose to place the upper part at a more pronounced angle in the vertical direction, even in this position some only receive a slight improvement.

The most common disorder is insomnia, which, of course, can lead to others such as anxiety or depression. Personalized treatment can alleviate symptoms to the point of restoring quality sleep to those who have to deal with the disease, in a way that doesn’t affect their work, social relationships, or temperament.


The fifth and last most common symptom of asthma is coughing. This usually occurs in the beginning at night and can worsen or develop in cold climates, humidity, and with allergies and other catalysts.

The evidence indicates that it’s used as an indicator of the disease during the first years of life, although there are studies that show we should be more cautious if it occurs in isolation.

Coughs can develop into a chronic condition, which generally worsens the symptoms of the condition. Sometimes this can lead to colds, flu, or infections of some kind. Because of this, it must be treated to avoid complications in a person’s state of health, especially if it’s a recurrent sign.

Uncommon symptoms of asthma

Although most patients develop the above asthma symptoms, other less frequent symptoms may also occur. They don’t always accompany the other symptoms and can be due to other conditions, and so you have to be careful when performing a self-diagnosis or self-medication.

That said, among the rare symptoms of asthma we have:

  • Itching in the throat, chin, or chest
  • An itching sensation in the respiratory tract
  • Psychological disorders as sequelae of the attacks
  • Fatigue and a bad mood
  • A lack of concentration (due to a lack of sleep)

Factors that can complicate asthmatic attacks

Asthma symptoms are multiple
Some infections can be associated and can complicate asthma.

Most asthmatic patients can live a normal life. However, it isn’t uncommon for these people to develop complications, which are rarely life-threatening if there’s a prior diagnosis and treatment is available.

Some of the catalysts that can complicate asthma symptoms include the following:

  • Infections
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Moderate or intense exercise
  • Allergies
  • Taking some medications (such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Obesity
  • Laughing or crying uncontrollably

The relationship between asthma and diet is documented, to the point that people must implement lifestyle changes in order to obtain improvements. Dandruff, mites, feathers, smoke, and other similar agents can also worsen symptoms to chronic stages.

Complications can be quite serious during pregnancy, as they can endanger the life of the baby, especially during moderate or severe attacks. That’s why treatment supervised by a specialist doctor is vital.

When to seek medical assistance?

In the event that you experience one or more of the symptoms outlined, we recommend that you seek medical assistance. It may well be a temporary allergy, but if the cause is asthma, then a treatment aimed at counteracting it can be implemented immediately.

The prognosis of asthma is very good, as long as it’s accompanied by periodic visits to the specialist and the treatment prescribed is implemented. It isn’t possible to determine when a mild condition will evolve into a severe one, and so it isn’t recommended that you postpone medical assistance if you suspect you may have asthma.

Pay particular attention when symptoms start to become more frequent and intense, which is a sign that not enough is being done to treat them. If you’re already receiving treatment, then you should consult with your specialist about the possibility of some sort of alternative treatment that can improve the symptoms more efficiently.

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