Other Causes Behind A Tightening Chest Sensation
The sudden feeling as though oneâs chest is tightening can be a worrying experience. The first thought that might occur is that one is experiencing a heart attack. However, cardiac arrest is not the only possible cause of a tightening chest sensation. It may very well be one of the causes listed below. As with any health concern, be sure to consult with oneâs doctor for a professional diagnosis.
Adjust Treatment According To Your Asthma Action Plan
When your lungs arent working as well as they should be, you may need to adjust your medications according to the plan you made with your doctor ahead of time. Your written asthma action plan will let you know exactly when and how to make adjustments.
The chart below can help you determine if youre doing a good job of keeping your asthma under control. A similar system should be included in your asthma action plan. Depending on where your asthma control falls on the chart, you may need to make adjustments to your medications.
|More than 80% of your predicted personal best||60 to 80% of your predicted personal best||Less than 60% of your predicted personal best|
There are two main types of medications used to treat asthma:
- Long-term control medications such as inhaled corticosteroids are the most important medications used to keep asthma under control. These preventive medications treat the airway inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. Used on a daily basis, these medications can reduce or eliminate asthma flare-ups.
- Quick-relief inhalers contain a fast-acting medication such as albuterol. These medications are sometimes called rescue inhalers. Theyre used as needed to quickly open your airways and make breathing easier. Knowing when to use these medications can help prevent an impending asthma attack.
Explaining Your Symptoms To Your Gp
Its a good idea to start a diary of your symptoms before speaking to your GP. Taking note of when symptoms flare-up may help you to understand your triggers. This diary will then help your GP to understand and properly assess your condition. You could also try filming your symptoms if they are hard to describe.
There are several different tests for asthma so your GP wont be able to diagnose you straightaway. Our advice on diagnosing asthma explains this process in more detail.
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Why Have Your Asthma Symptoms Got Worse
Before your appointment, have a think about your symptoms and why you think theyve got worse. Itll help you and your GP to work out whats going on with your asthma.
Ask yourself these questions to help you:
Have I been taking my preventer inhaler every day?
Preventer medicines stop inflammation building up in your airways. But they can only do this if you take them every day.
If you stop taking them you wont have full protection. And your symptoms will come back.
Have you been taking yours every day? Or have you found it hard to get into a good routine?
Do I know the best way to take my inhalers?
Even if youve been taking an inhaler for years, its easy to slip into bad habits. If you havent been taking your inhaler correctly you will have been missing out on the full dose of asthma medicine.
Are you confident youre taking your inhalers in the right way? Watch our inhaler videos to see if youre doing it right. And ask your GP or asthma nurse to check it at your appointment.
Have I been around more of my usual asthma triggers?
Maybe youve caught a cold, or its pollen season and your hay fevers bad. Think about your usual triggers and if they might be affecting you more.
Have I come across a new trigger?
Have you been around an animal or pet? Did you start a new job, or go on holiday? Tell your doctor if youve spotted a new trigger. They can help you deal with it.
What else has been going on in my life lately?
Have I noticed hormonal changes?
If You Have Asthma Your Healthcare Team Will:
- Explain how you can keep your asthma under control by avoiding your personal triggers
- Prescribe medication that will help minimize your symptoms
- Show you how to take your medication properly, checking your inhaler technique
- Work with you so you have a written Asthma Action Plan
- Recommend that you visit on a regular basis so that your symptoms can be monitored and your treatments adjusted if necessary
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Keep Taking Prescribed Medications
Long-term controller medications may also help treat your asthma and prevent symptoms from returning. Its important not to stop taking your prescribed medications even if your symptoms are better.
If you stop taking your medications as prescribed, this could cause your symptoms to return at a higher severity, leading to an over-reliance on fast-acting inhalers and other rescue medications.
What Happens During An Asthma Attack
Exposure to allergens can cause asthma attacks.
The lungs are like trees with many branches, but instead of leaves at the end, there are balloon-like air sacs that inflate and deflate to help a person breathe. The trees trunk and the branches that lead from it are all part of the airways.
These airways are usually open, allowing oxygen to fill the air sacs in the lungs. However, when a person has asthma, the linings of the airways become inflamed and irritated or can swell or have extra mucus present.
These situations can make breathing harder because a person cannot move as much air through a smaller airway.
Sometimes, people can experience an acute asthma flare-up known as an asthma attack.
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Asthma is a lung disease that causes your airways to tighten up, making it hard for you to breathe. Theres no cure for asthma. Even if you have asthma and feel healthy, asthma flares can happen at any time.
Most people with asthma can keep the disease under control and avoid serious health problems. If youre pregnant, its really important to work with your health care provider to manage your asthma and get medical care, if needed.
What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers
You can have an asthma attack if you come in contact with substances that irritate you. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.
For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. For other people, or at other times, an attack may start hours or days later.
Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:
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What Happens During An Asthma Episode
During normal breathing, the airways to the lungs are fully open. This allows air to move in and out of the lungs freely. Asthma causes the airways to change in the following ways:
These changes narrow the airways. Breathing becomes difficult and stressful, like trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton.
How Is Asthma Treated
Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you and stay away from things that can trigger an attack to control your asthma.
Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine.
You can breathe in some medicines and take other medicines as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two typesquick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they dont help you while you are having an asthma attack.
Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.
Remember you can control your asthma. With your doctors help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you dont have symptoms.
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You Often Feel Short Of Breath
Another sign that your asthma is getting worse is if you start to feel out of breath even when youre not doing anything strenuous.
Its normal to feel winded after exercising or climbing more stairs than youre used to. But stationary activities like standing, sitting, or lying down shouldnt cause you to lose your breath.
What Causes Asthma
Researchers dont know why some people have asthma while others dont. But certain factors present a higher risk:
- Allergies: Having allergies can raise your risk of developing asthma.
- Environmental factors: People can develop asthma after exposure to things that irritate the airways. These substances include allergens, toxins, fumes and second- or third-hand smoke. These can be especially harmful to infants and young children whose immune systems havent finished developing.
- Genetics: If your family has a history of asthma or allergic diseases, you have a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Respiratory infections: Certain respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus , can damage young childrens developing lungs.
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Who Gets Asthma
Over 2.5 million Australians have asthma, including children and adults. Asthma is more common in families with asthma or allergies, but not everyone with asthma has allergies. Asthma is common in children, but it can also start later.
Asthma often starts as wheezing at preschool age. Not all wheezing is asthma many preschool children who wheeze do not have asthma by primary school age.
Adults of any age can develop asthma, even if they did not have asthma as a child.
What Can You Do
The Lung Institute provides a great list of ways to confront your chest tightness from asthma. It resonates with my practice as well. Here are some actions you can take when you feel the tightness coming on:2
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How Do I Recognize The Early Signs Of An Asthma Attack
Early warning signs are changes that happen just before or at the very beginning of an asthma attack. These changes start before the well-known symptoms of asthma and are the earliest signs that your asthma is worsening.
In general, these early asthma attack symptoms are not severe enough to stop you from going about your daily activities. But by recognizing these signs, you can stop an asthma attack or prevent one from getting worse.
Early warning signs of an asthma attack may include:
- Frequent cough, especially at night
- Reduced peak flow meter readings
- Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath
- Feeling very tired or weak when exercising
- Wheezing or coughing during or after exercise
- Feeling tired, easily upset, grouchy, or moody
The severity of an asthma attack can escalate rapidly, so it’s important to treat these symptoms immediately once you recognize them.
Chest Tightness Due To Anxiety: Symptoms Causes And Solutions To Relieve It
- Chest tightness is a real, common physical symptom of anxiety
- It is more common in some types of anxiety than others
- Breathing exercises have a direct effect on chest tightness, although it may not address all the different causes
- It is not uncommon for chest tightness from anxiety to trigger further anxiety, especially in those with health fears
- How you address the tightness has to do with its cause. However, all anxiety related chest tightness will decrease if a person learns to manage their anxiety
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Misconceptions About Your Pet
For both cats and dogs, there are breeds out there that are sold as hypoallergenic, says Otsu. But if you ask an allergist, theyll tell you that theres no such thing.
Its true that certain dog breeds dont shed, and that certain cat breeds produce less fur and dander. But you can still develop allergic and asthma symptoms from exposure to these animals.
Thats because allergens are still found in the saliva and skin of cats and dogs. Unless you have a dog that doesnt salivate or has no skin, is a misnomer, Otsu notes.
Children Do Not Outgrow Their Asthma
Its also a misconception that all children outgrow their asthma.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, children may experience remission from asthma as adults, but about one-third of children with asthma will have symptoms as adults.
Theres also a greater chance that your symptoms will return if you have:
- a personal or family history of asthma
Smoking or living with someone who does can also increase your risk of developing returning asthma symptoms.
You may not be able to entirely prevent your asthma symptoms from returning, but managing and treating your condition can help reduce their recurrence. Avoiding your triggers is one way you can help prevent asthma flare-ups.
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You Wake Up Coughing And Wheezing During The Night
If youre ever jolted awake in the middle of the night by a fit of coughing or wheezing, you may need to modify your asthma management plan.
Properly managed asthma shouldnt wake you up from sleep more than 1 or 2 nights a month. If youre losing sleep due to your symptoms more than this, it may be time to discuss treatment modifications with your doctor.
Your peak flow readings measure how well your lungs are functioning at their best. This is usually tested at home with a handheld device called a peak flow meter.
If youre a peak flow meter user, and your peak flow levels drop below 80 percent of your personal best, it may be a sign that your severe asthma is poorly managed.
Another sign that your asthma is getting worse is if your peak flow reading varies greatly from day to day. If you notice low or inconsistent numbers, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Diagnosed With Asthma But An Inhaler Isnt Helping
Having trouble breathing is always a scary experience. But if youve been diagnosed with asthma, and your inhaler doesnt help during these attacks, it can be frustrating, too.
Patients experiencing asthma symptoms can be misdiagnosed when in fact they are suffering from vocal cord dysfunction .
VCD is an abnormal narrowing of the larynx. Its a dysfunction of the vocal cords where the cords actually close up when a patient breathes in, making the patient feel like they cant breathe in and are being strangled, says A. Bettina Lopez-Lam, MS, CCC-SLP, senior speech-language pathologist, Bayshore Medical Center.
VCD causes many of the same symptoms as asthma:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest and throat tightness
- Trouble breathing
But the hallmark of VCD compared to asthma is trouble getting air in and tightness that feels like choking or suffocation.
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The Medications Youre Taking
The most common example of a drug interfering with asthma control is beta blockers, which are prescribed to treat certain cardiovascular conditions.
Thats because albuterol a widely prescribed drug to treat asthma symptoms as needed is a beta agonist, which means its action can be directly blocked by beta blockers, Otsu notes.
There may also be lower-level interactions between drugs for asthma and for other conditions, so its important for every doctor you see to know about your asthma and what medications youre taking to manage your symptoms.
Asthmatic Chest Congestion Symptoms
Chest congestion can be an uncomfortable and especially persistent effect of asthma. You may cough up phlegm or you can feel like you need to do so, but can’t . Your breathing might be loud, with the sound of noisy mucus that seems to be coming from your nose, throat, and/or chest.
Chest congestion can also cause a number of bothersome issues including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Chest tightness
When you have asthma, you may also have nasal congestion or postnasal drip along with chest congestion.
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Youre Coughing And Wheezing More During The Day
Another sign that your severe asthma may be getting worse is if youre coughing or wheezing more often than usual.
Talk with your doctor about adjusting your treatment plan if you constantly feel like youre about to cough. Also speak with them if you find yourself wheezing with a whistle-like sound more than once a day.