How to Know When Asthma is about to Attack

Asthma is a chronic lung disease which causes airways to swell and narrow, leading to shortness of breath, chronic coughing and other problems. Early warning signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Coughing often
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of sleep/feeling tired/unable to sleep
  • Headache
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Wheezing and feeling weak and tired after exercising

Asthma attacks can present themselves with many symptoms, and they can vary with each attack. These symptoms include:

  • Chronic cough-asthma coughs are normally dry and persistent, but can be wet. They can be worse at night, can cause hacking, and linger after other cold symptoms have cleared. Cough medicine won’t help with asthma, so it’s best to contact your physician if your cough doesn’t go away.
  • Changes in breathing-peak flow meters can be a good indicator if an asthma attack is near. It’s best to know your ‘good’ numbers and to keep track of them. Asthma attacks have probably begun when your breathing is between 50-80% of your best number. If your numbers are below 50%, use your rescue inhaler right away and call for medical help. If your lips turn blue or gray, and you are short of breath when walking, call 911.
  • Action plans-when you go in for you asthma check-ups, your physician will give you an action plan to follow. It is important to follow your plan. If you still do not feel well, contact your physician.
  • Difficulty breathing-airway muscles and linings swell during asthma attacks which causes shortness of breath. When airways produce too much mucus, the air tubes in the lungs become blocked. Asthma attacks also cause air to get trapped in the lungs.
  • Changes in posture-if you see someone hunched over, holding their chest and not making complete sentences, they may be having an asthma attack (or another medical issues).
  • Retractions in the chest and neck-this happens when tissue in the chest and neck cave in with breaths. This means the lungs are not getting enough air and someone should call for emergency help. For children, they may also be tired, have no appetite, and are not as active.
  • Blue lips and/or fingernails-Cyanosis is when you are lacking oxygen in your blood. If you see someone with blue lips or fingernails, call 911 right away.

Asthma is a chronic, serious disease. A few other symptoms to pay attention to include anxiety and panic, trouble talking, pale and sweaty face and not being able to inhale and exhale. If you are with someone experiencing any of these symptoms, call for medical help. If you notice changes in your breathing, contact your physician to determine if you have asthma. You can live your life with no limitations!