Symptoms of Asthma


General information about symptoms of Asthma: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Asthma. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Asthma. Furthermore, symptoms of Asthma may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Asthma.

List of symptoms of Asthma: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Asthma includes:

Symptoms of Asthma: Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by episodes of airflow obstruction. Symptoms of an asthma attack include

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness

Acute symptoms require prompt action to help students resume their activities as soon as possible. Prompt action is also required to prevent an episode from becoming more serious or even life-threatening. Table 3 lists the symptoms that indicate an acute asthma episode and the need for immediate action. The student's asthma plan and the school's emergency plan should be easily accessible so that all staff, substitutes, volunteers, and aides know what to do.

Table 3. Acute Symptoms Requiring Prompt Action
  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Chest tightness or pressure--reported by the student

  • Other signs, such as low peak flow readings as indicated on the asthma management plan.

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma (coughing, wheezing, pain or chest tightness) may last several minutes to an hour or more. These symptoms are quite different from breathlessness (deep, rapid breathing) that quickly returns to normal after aerobic exercise2

Students may have symptoms that do not indicate an acute episode needing immediate treatment, but instead indicate that their asthma is not under complete control. Table 4 lists these signs.

Table 4. Signs That May Indicate Poorly Controlled Asthma
  • A persistent cough

  • Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath after vigorous physical activity, on a recurring basis

  • Low level of stamina during physical activity or reluctance to participate.

More symptoms of Asthma: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Asthma, underlying causes of Asthma, associated conditions for Asthma, risk factors for Asthma, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:

1. excerpt from Asthma A Concern for Minority Populations, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
2. excerpt from NHLBI, Asthma & Physical Activity in the School: NHLBI

Last revision: April 9, 2003

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