Over 26 million Americans suffer from asthma, including more than 20 million adults and 6 million children. With it being so prevalent, you may be wondering, “How do I know if I have asthma?” Asthma symptoms will vary from person to person, and you may have different symptoms at different times making detection particularly tricky. However, there are several common symptoms that may help you determine if you have this respiratory disease.
How Do You Know if You Have Asthma: Early Asthma Symptoms
Some people will have asthma symptoms every day, while others only get them during exercise or a respiratory infection like a cold. Mild asthma attacks can last a few minutes to a few hours, while severe attacks last longer but are rarer. To keep asthma under control, you’ll want to recognize the early symptoms of an attack and treat even mild cases immediately.
The following signs signal the start of an asthma attack and are an indication that your asthma is worsening. They may not be severe enough to interfere with daily activities, but by recognizing them, you can stop or prevent the worsening of an asthma attack. These early signs include:
- Shortness of breath or easily losing your breath
- Frequent nighttime coughing spells
- Coughing or wheezing during exercise or feeling weak and tired while working out
- Getting noticeably tired, grouchy, easily upset, or moody
- Trouble sleeping
- Allergy or cold symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, headache, sore throat, or a cough
- Lung function decreases or changes as measured by a peak flow meter
If you have any of the above symptoms, you need to let your doctor know. He or she can prescribe you appropriate asthma medications and create an asthma action plan.
How Do You Know if You Have Asthma: Recognizing an Asthma Attack
During an asthma attack, the bands of muscle that surround your airways will be triggered to tighten, a process that’s called bronchospasm. During this attack, your airway lining swells and becomes inflamed, causing the lining cells to produce an excess of thicker mucus than usual. These factors lead to difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and other difficulties with daily activities. You may recognize the following symptoms:
- Severe wheezing when you breathe in and out
- Rapid breathing
- An uncontrollable cough
- Chest pressure or pain
- Tightness in your chest or neck muscles
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Difficulty speaking
- Blue fingernails or lips
- A sweaty, pale face
Because the severity of an asthma attack escalates at a rapid rate, it’s crucial to treat the symptoms as soon as you notice them. Use your inhaler or bronchodilator to prevent your breathing from becoming more labored. If your peak flow meter reads less than 80 percent of normal, you need to put your action plan into use.
If you’re wondering, “How do I know if I have asthma,” simply knowing the symptoms above can give you a good indication. To learn more about eliminating asthma symptoms, check out America’s Allergist.
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