Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Asthma symptoms can differ for each person, but here are some of the most common:

  • Wheezing. You may notice a wheezing sound when you breathe. Sometimes this happens only when you exercise or have a cold.
  • Frequent Cough. This may be more common at night. You may or may not cough up mucus.
  • Shortness of Breath. This is the feeling you can’t get enough air into your lungs. It may occur only once in a while, or often.
  • Chest Tightness. Your chest may feel tight, especially during cold weather or exercise. This can also be the first sign of a flare-up.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. The sooner you begin treating your asthma and maintaining control, the less damage you will cause to your lungs in the long run. There are many resources available for people living with asthma and their loved ones. To learn more about your asthma, visit one of the links below:

What Causes Asthma Symptoms?

For people with asthma, respiratory infections, allergens, chemicals, odors, physical activity, emotions, seasonal changes and smoking can irritate the lungs. We call these triggers because they cause (trigger) changes in the airways. Understanding the things that trigger your asthma will help you manage your disease. Work with your healthcare provider to help find the triggers that cause your asthma symptoms. Once you have identified the triggers that cause your asthma symptoms, work on ways to avoid the trigger entirely or limit your exposure to it.

» View a list of the most common asthma triggers.

How is Asthma Diagnosed?

How is Asthma Diagnosed?If you experience any of the symptoms above, it is important to see your healthcare provider to determine if you have asthma. You will be asked for some medical history, which should include family members with asthma, smoking, allergies, and exposure to pollutants in your workplace. You will also get a physical exam. There are also several breathing tests your healthcare provider may perform. The most common test is called spirometry. (Spirometry uses a device called, a spirometer, to measure the amount and speed of the air you blow out.) This will help your healthcare provider to see how well your lungs are working. There are other lung diseases that may cause some of the same symptoms as asthma. If your doctor thinks you might have something else, he or she may order additional tests.

Asthma Treatment

Asthma TreatmentOnce your healthcare provider makes a diagnosis of asthma, you will be prescribed medicines to help control your asthma. Medicines prescribed to treat your asthma may seem difficult to understand and difficult to use. It is important that you work with your healthcare provider on an asthma action plan designed specifically for your needs. An asthma action plan provides key information on when to take your medicines on a daily basis and what to do in an emergency. This will help you take control of your asthma so you can live a healthy and productive life.

» Learn more about asthma medicines.