Asthma Attack And Symptoms
The symptoms of asthma may vary greatly among individuals and at times even for the same person.
Your ability to recognize the early signs and symptoms that initially appear prior to an attack is critical, if you wish to avoid an emergency room visit. So when you notice these signs, you should seek the advice of your doctor to follow a professionally directed action plan.
Prior to a full-blown asthma attack, there are usually early signs and symptoms you should be able to easily recognize. Irritation of the nose and throat, thirst, and the frequent need to urinate may occur before an asthma attack. Each person has his or her own peculiar pattern of early symptoms and most often these results to a severe respiratory distress episode if not properly treated.
The common symptoms of an attack are coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. During an attack, wheezing is very common when exhaling. Often the attack begins with wheezing and rapid breathing and as respiratory airways constrict and tighten, all breathing muscles become visibly active.
Chest pain or tightness occurs in almost 75% of asthmatics. It can be very severe and its intensity is unrelated to the severity of the attack itself. The neck muscles may tense and talking may become difficult or impossible. The final stage of an attack is often marked by a cough that produces a thick, stringy mucus. After an acute attack, inflammation can persist for a few days up to several weeks. This inflammation is most often left untreated since it is usually symptomless. But, it is this asymptomatic inflammation that must be treated in order to prevent long term respiratory damage or relapse.
The most common asthmatic symptoms are:
Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
If you experience breathlessness after laughing or talking for a long period, this is a sign of asthma. In rare instances, you may find that you feel the need to inhale before you have finished breathing out.
Sometimes a whistling sound is heard when you breathe. It indicates airway narrowing and it could be present on inhalation or exhalation. Please recognize that not all wheezing or even asthmatics wheezing indicates an asthmatic condition.
Exercise induced breathlessness
If physical exertion like playing a sport, walking up a flight of stairs, rapid physical exertion, etc. makes you shortness of breath then this could be an indication of asthma.
Tight chested feeling
This sensation feels like a tight band across your chest for example like an elastic band or a heavy weight resting on your chest. Your ability to fully inhale is limited and in advanced situations it is painful. Sometimes this tightness is exacerbated in cold weather.
Excessive mucus production
Gurgling or rattling during inhalation or exhalation with coughing up a lot of white frothy mucus is common in asthmatic individuals. Sometimes this mucous will be thick in consistency and yellow or green in color.
Another frequent sign of asthma is a recurring irritating cough, This persistent cough usually occurs in the cool air, at night, or after exercise.
When air is trapped in the airways due to inflammation, the surrounding membrane stretches and causes pain. Advanced cases can often lead to complicated situations similar to emphysema.
Nasal Congestion and drainage
Nasal congestion and a runny nose are often associated with asthma. Rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages) is known as asthma of the nose.
Disturbed Sleep Patterns
An inability to sleep due to snoring or awakening often during the night could be an asthma symptom. Other illness also display this condition, so this symptom alone should not be considered conclusive.
Tiredness is usual for asthmatics. It is often the result of interrupted sleep patterns, diminished oxygen supply to the blood and availability to the body tissues and also the build up of muscular lactic acid which results in generalized muscle fatigue.
The Early Warning Signs:
As mild asthmatics can even have severe attacks, it is important to recognize the early signs so that you can take appropriate action.
- Your reliever (puffer) is no longer as effective and you need to use it more frequently than every 3-4 hours.
- The wheeze improves or even disappears but there is no improvement in your ability to breathe.
- You have difficulty in speaking for a long period without stopping to take a breath.
- If around your lips and fingertips it start to turn blue to Grey color. This indicates that you have insufficient oxygen levels in your blood circulation and this condition is termed as ‘cyanosis’.
- You become anxious to the extend of being frightened.
- Difficulty in deep thinking and concentration.
- Every breath becomes increasingly difficult.
The best advice is never ignore an asthma attack and do not ever have high expectation that an asthma attack will improve or disappear by itself. If the problems persist seek immediate attention from a qualified medical and follow a professionally directed recovery and treatment action plan.