Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the respiratory system of tens of thousands of people around the world. Sufferers often describe an episode or attack as feeling like a metal band tightening around their chest. Asthma signs and symptoms are varied depending upon the individual and their specific response to allergens. There are common asthma signs and symptoms and then there are those that are more individualized to the sufferer.
Early signs are experienced before the start of an asthma attack or episode. These very early asthma signs and symptoms can be unique to each person and they can also be unique on different asthma attack occasions. Some of the early signs will be noticed only by the sufferer, while others are more likely to be noticed by others.
These early asthma signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to, breathing changes, faster heart rate, dark circles under the eyes, a downward trend in peak flow values, feeling tired, poor exercise tolerance, headache, runny nose, moodiness, sadness, sweaty, fever, wants to be alone, chin or throat itches. Parents must evaluate these early signs and symptoms when children are the sufferers. Often children want to avoid an attack and believe by ignoring the signs they can accomplish it.
In mild episodes the asthma signs and symptoms include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and peak flow values that may be in the caution or danger range. Children may have audible wheezing that can be heard without a stethoscope and listening at the chest.
In severe asthma the signs and symptoms are life-threatening. When these symptoms are presenting the sufferer should be taken directly to an emergency room for treatment as they are probably danger of a respiratory arrest and death. At this point asthma creates a situation in which the body is unable to take in adequate oxygen to maintain bodily functions.
Severe asthma signs and symptoms are difficulty talking or concentrating, walking causes shortness of breath, hunched shoulders (called posturing), flaring nostrils to take in as much air as possible, and gray or blue tint to the skin beginning around the mouth. The final sign before respiratory arrest is drooling as the sufferer is working so hard to breathe that they can’t manage their own saliva.
In a study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology in 2007 researchers from Norway discovered that there were also signs and symptoms of asthma in the upper airway of patients with asthma as opposed to the traditional lower respiratory symptoms that are generally reported. Those symptoms included nasal blockage, mouth breathing, itching, sneezing and hearing impairments.
Patients with asthma also show an increased amount of sleepiness during daytime hours because of a co-morbidity with obstructive sleep apnea. In a study published in 2006 from the University of Cincinnati researchers found a strong correlation between women who snored and had asthma with atopy. People who are atopic have allergies to inhaled allergens which increase in antibodies IgE. People who are atopic also have a higher risk to eczema.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of asthma is an important part of managing this condition. Patients, teachers, and trainers should know the early and warning signs of asthma so that treatment can be initiated immediately. An accurate assessment of the current situation will help to determine if treatment should start where you are, at home, at the doctor’s office or the emergency room.