Asthma occurs when the airways swell and narrow and produce extra mucus. The swelling can make breathing difficult and may even trigger coughing. In some cases, a whistling sound (also known as wheezing) is also noted each time the patient breathes out.
For some people with asthma, it is nothing more than a minor nuisance. However, for others, it can become a major problem that can interfere with their normal day-to-day activities and may sometimes lead to life-threatening attacks.
While there is no known asthma treatment, the symptoms can be effectively managed. However, since asthma treatment can change over time, it is important that you work closely with your doctor to monitor the signs and symptoms and adjust the asthma treatment as needed.
Most Common Asthma Triggers
Exposure to various substances and irritants that trigger allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms. However, asthma symptoms can differ from one person to another. Some of the most prevalent asthma triggers include:
- Respiratory infections like the common cold
- Airborne allergens like mold spores, dust mites, pollen, and pet dander
- Cold air
- Physical activity
- Strong emotions
- Preservatives and sulfites that are present in some food and beverages (dried fruit, wine, beer, shrimp, processed potatoes, etc.)
- Certain medications including aspirin, beta blockers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen and naproxen sodium)
- Air pollutants and irritants such as smoke
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
As mentioned earlier, asthma symptoms can vary from one person to another. For instance, some people experience symptoms only when exercising while others experience the symptoms all the time even without doing anything.
Common signs and symptoms of asthma include:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing when exhaling
- Trouble sleeping (caused by coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath)
- Wheezing or coughing attacks that are worsened by flu or cold
Signs that your asthma is worsening include:
- Symptoms become more bothersome and frequent
- Patient experiences more difficulty breathing
- There is a need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often
When to See a Doctor
Asthma that is severe can be life-threatening. In line with this, it would be best to work with your doctor so you will be given proper guidance when your signs and symptoms worsen. Signs that you need emergency asthma treatment include:
- Rapid worsening of wheezing or shortness of breath
- No noticeable improvement even after using a quick relief inhaler
- Shortness of breath even when only doing minimal physical activity
You need to also get in touch with your doctor right away in the following scenarios:
- If you suspect you have asthma. If you experience frequent wheezing or coughing that lasts for more than a few days, you need to see your doctor right away. Treating asthma early can help ensure long-term lung damage is prevented. It can also help warrant that the condition does not get worse over time.
- If you want to monitor your asthma after getting diagnosed. Get in touch with your doctor right away if you want to manage your symptoms better. Good long-term control can help you feel better each day and can help prevent any life-threatening asthma attack.
- If your asthma symptoms start to get worse. If you notice your medication can no longer effectively ease any of the symptoms you are experiencing, visit your doctor right away. Also, if you notice that you are using your quick-relief inhaler more often, consider that your cue to pay your doctor a visit. In addition, do not take more of the prescribed medication without consulting your doctor first. Overusing any asthma medications might have adverse side effects and may cause your symptoms to worsen.