Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.
While it is true that asthma can’t be cured, its symptoms can be controlled. Because asthma often changes over time, it’s very important that you work with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms and adjust treatment as needed. Asthma symptoms range from minor to severe and vary from person to person. One may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or have symptoms all the time.
-Shortness of breath
-Chest tightness or pain
-Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
-A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
-Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
-Exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry
-Occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
-Allergy-induced asthma, triggered by particular allergens, such as pet dander, cockroaches or pollen
Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Work with your doctor ahead of time to determine what to do when your signs and symptoms worsen — and when you need emergency treatment.
-Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
-No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol
-Shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity
If you think you have asthma. If you have frequent coughing or wheezing that lasts more than a few days or any other signs or symptoms of asthma, see your doctor. Treating asthma early may prevent long-term lung damage and help keep the condition from worsening over time.
To monitor your asthma after diagnosis. If you know you have asthma, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Good long-term control helps you feel better on a daily basis and can prevent a life-threatening asthma attack.
If your asthma symptoms get worse. Contact your doctor right away if your medication doesn’t seem to ease your symptoms or if you need to use your quick-relief inhaler more often. Don’t try to solve the problem by taking more medication without consulting your doctor. Overusing asthma medication can cause side effects and may make your asthma worse.
To review your treatment. Asthma often changes over time. Meet with your doctor on a regular basis to discuss your symptoms and make any needed treatment adjustments.