Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell, usually due to chronic inflammation. This inflammation makes the airways very sensitive to many things, called “triggers”. Asthma makes breathing difficult, it can trigger cough, and a whistling sound (“wheezing”) when you breathe out, chest tightness and shortness of breath. These symptoms are variable and can be triggered by such factors as exercise, allergens or irritant exposure, changes in the weather, and respiratory infections such as a cold or the flu.
When you have asthma, you may occasionally experience symptoms, or they may occur only in specific situations, such as during exercise or when you have a cold. Some patients have symptoms all the time if their asthma is not well-controlled. While a cure is still under research, asthma symptoms can be controlled with the right treatment and lifestyle measures.
About your asthma symptoms
Wheezing: A whistling sound when breathing out.
Shortness of breath: You feel like you are not getting sufficient oxygen and need to breathe harder, quicker and/or deeper.
Chest tightness: A feeling of pressure or heaviness on the chest.
Cough: Some people with asthma have a dry cough, namely one that does not produce mucous.
How to recognise asthma?
If you reply “yes” to one or more of the questions below, ask your doctor to be tested for asthma since these symptoms may be signs of asthma.
- Do you have one or more of the following: a wheezing sound when breathing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough?
- Do the symptoms worsen at night or upon waking?
- Do the symptoms occur variably over time and at different intensities?
- Do the symptoms get worse when you are exercising or laughing?
- Do the symptoms get worse if you are exposed to allergens (pollens, pets, etc.) cold air or irritants like smoke or strong smells?
- Do the symptoms appear or worsen when you have a viral respiratory infection (flu, cold)?
Asthma is a complex disease and symptoms can vary from person to person. It can be mistaken for other conditions. Therefore, it is very important to get a correct diagnosis as soon as possible.