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What Are The Signs Symptoms And Triggers Of Asthma

What Types Of Asthma Are There

Asthma Symptoms: What Causes Asthma Attacks?

Healthcare providers identify asthma as intermittent or persistent . Persistent asthma can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have attacks. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.

Asthma can be:

  • Allergic: Some peoples can cause an asthma attack. Molds, pollens and other allergens can cause an attack.
  • Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.

Asthma Attack Symptoms Vary

Response from Leon Lebowitz, RRT

Asthma is considered to be a reversible, obstructive airway disease. The hallmark of asthma is hypersensitivity of the airways. The four most common symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of tightness, or pressure, in the chest.

Not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You might not have all of these symptoms, or you might have different symptoms at different times. The symptoms might also vary from one asthma episode to the next, being mild during one asthma episode and severe during another.1

Early warning signs are considered to be changes that happen just before an asthma episode or acute exacerbation. These changes actually start before the well-known symptoms of asthma occur and can be the earliest signs that a person’s asthma is worsening or about to occur. Generally speaking, these signs are not severe enough to stop a person from going about his or her daily activities. If you are attuned to your own asthma tendencies and can recognize these signs, you may be able to stop an asthma episode or prevent one from getting worse.2

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 รข 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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Asthma Causes And Triggers

When you have asthma, your airways react to things in the world around you. Doctors call these asthma triggers. They might cause symptoms or make them worse. Common asthma triggers include:

  • Infections like sinusitis, colds, and the flu
  • Allergens such as pollens, mold, pet dander, and dust mites
  • Irritants like strong odors from perfumes or cleaning solutions
  • Air pollution
  • Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter, sadness, or stress
  • Medications such as aspirin
  • Food preservatives called sulfites, found in things like shrimp, pickles, beer and wine, dried fruits, and bottled lemon and lime juices

What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Adult Onset Asthma

Asthma Infographic Elements Detail About Of Asthma ...

Regardless of age, asthma symptoms can include:

Dry cough, especially at night or in response to specific triggers

Tightness or pressure in the chest

Wheezing a whistling sound when exhaling

Shortness of breath after exercise or physical exertion

Difficulty breathing

Colds that go to the chest or hang on for 10 days or more

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What You Can Do Right Now: Indoor Air Quality

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, you may want to consider taking a closer look at the air you breathe. Its possible that something in your home may be a trigger for some of your symptoms. While you would need to discuss these potential triggers with your doctor, improving your indoor air quality is one of the most important things you can do for your health. This is especially true if somebody in your home is smoker.

Whether you buy a bunch of houseplants to help purify your air, or buy an air purifier designed with asthma sufferers in mind, there are many things you can do right now to improve your indoor air quality. It may not have a direct effect on your asthma symptoms, but its always good to breathe in more of the pure oxygen your body craves and less of the potentially-harmful pollutants that sometimes come along with it.

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In this section: Diagnosis and Lung Testing | How To Tell You Have Asthma | Your Healthcare Team

Asthma is a complex disease to diagnose, and only a healthcare professional is able to make a proper diagnosis.

If you are concerned that you may have asthma, contact your healthcare provider. In order to confirm an asthma diagnosis, your healthcare provider will take into account your medical and family history, allergies, and conduct lung function testing such as spirometry.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Asthma

If you think that you have asthma, the best thing you can do is see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for proper testing and diagnosis. Many people normalize their symptoms, without ever realizing that a symptom-free life could be possible. Its crucial to never ignore or downplay your asthma symptoms, you never know when something could trigger a potentially fatal asthma attack.

The sooner that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, the sooner you can take control of your asthma and live life to the fullest.

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How Do I Monitor My Daily Asthma Symptoms

National asthma guidelines suggest using a daily symptom diary such as Allergy & Asthma Networks AsthmaTracker to keep track of symptoms, peak expiratory flow rates and medications used.

What is an AsthmaTracker?

The AsthmaTracker can help your track how well your symptoms respond to your treatment plan. By writing down your symptoms, peak expiratory flow rate and medication use each day, youll notice a pattern to your symptoms and develop strategies to stop the symptoms before they can stop you.

What is a peak flow meter?

A peak flow meter is a handheld device that measures the peak expiratory flow rate , or how much air you can forcibly push out of your lungs at a particular time.

Asthma Storylines an app for managing asthma

The free Asthma Storylines app is a self-care tool for managing asthma. Track symptoms, learn more about daily patterns and record topics to discuss with your healthcare team.

Do I Have To Wear Face Masks On Public Transportation

Asthma Symptoms

Masks are still required for travel on all public transportation even if you are fully vaccinated.

As of Aug. 27, 2021, the updated mask guidance from CDC says that masks are still required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. This includes traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

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Common Symptoms Of Asthma:

  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure
  • A squealing or whistling sound made when you breathe

According to WHO, 262 million individuals were affected by Asthma in 2019.

Out of which 461000 asthma deaths were reported worldwide.

  • Frequent cough, especially at night
  • Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath
  • Feeling very tired or weak when exercising
  • Wheezing or coughing after exercise
  • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
  • Coughing that wont stop
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles, called retractions
  • Difficulty talking
  • Feeling tired, easily upset, grouchy, or moody
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Signs of a cold or allergies
  • Trouble sleeping

Do Children Need To Wear Face Masks

COVID-19 vaccines are now available in the U.S. for everyone 12 years old and older. Children in this age range should get vaccinated as soon as possible so they are protected from COVID-19.

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Children with a disability that keeps them from safely wearing a mask and children under 2 should not wear masks.

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How To Prevent An Asthma Attack

Preventing an asthma attack is easier to do if you know what triggers your asthma.

Avoidance of the triggers can help prevent an asthma attack in many cases, says David Stempel, MD, Senior VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Propeller Health. Asthma attacks can be further mitigated by taking preventative medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and in some cases using a short-acting bronchodilator, like albuterol, 15 minutes prior to exposure to a trigger like exercise.

How To Avoid Asthma Triggers

Asthma symptoms in children, adults, and more

If you know what your asthma triggers are, then where possible, its beneficial to try to avoid them.

If theres a particular allergen culprit you know of, then keeping your home clean and dust-free can help. For example, you could consider swapping carpets for wooden floors to reduce the amount of dust build-up or hiring a cleaner so youre not personally exposed to dust when cleaning.

It can be more difficult to avoid asthma triggers completely when youre at work, especially if your asthma is occupational and linked to your working environment. In an ideal world, you could simply change jobs to something more suitable for your health, but in reality this isnt always feasible.

Let your employer or the HR department know about your asthma. You should be able to discuss the options available for optimising your work environment to be more suitable to your needs.

Keeping on top of your asthma management plan, working alongside your doctor or asthma nurse and making sure you take your inhalers or other asthma medications should help to control your symptoms. Making practical lifestyle choices is important too, like eating healthily, exercising and not smoking.

It can also be beneficial to learn an asthma breathing technique. There are various breathing techniques that can help asthma and knowing how to breathe properly could help if something unexpectedly triggers an attack.

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Acute Exacerbation Of Asthma Risk Reduction

One of the most important steps that may be taken to reduce the risk of asthma exacerbations is to learn what triggers symptoms and avoid them. For example, if dry, cold air causes symptoms, it may be useful to cover your nose with a scarf in cold weather. Other strategies that can help to reduce the risk of acute asthma exacerbations include:

  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face to prevent getting colds or other respiratory infections.
  • Make sure you take each asthma medication as prescribed by your physician.
  • Regularly monitor your lung function using a peak flow meter and record your results.
  • Use your rescue inhalers as soon as you develop symptoms of an asthma attack.
  • Identify whether your use of quick-relief inhalers has increased lately. This could mean that your doctor needs to modify your treatment or adjust your doses. Never modify your treatment or self-medicate without talking to your health care provider first.
  • If a physical activity triggers an attack, stop immediately and use your rescue inhaler as prescribed.
  • Dont stop taking your treatment or reduce your doses without discussing it with your doctor first, even if you feel that your symptoms are improving.

Who Strategy For Prevention And Control Of Asthma

Asthma is included in the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

WHO is taking action to extend diagnosis of and treatment for asthma in a number of ways.

The WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions was developed to help improve NCD management in primary health care in low-resource settings. PEN includes protocols for the assessment, diagnosis, and management of chronic respiratory diseases , and modules on healthy lifestyle counselling, including tobacco cessation, and self-care.

Reducing tobacco smoke exposure is important for both primary prevention of asthma and disease management. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is enabling progress in this area as are WHO initiatives such as MPOWER and mTobacco Cessation.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma

The symptoms of asthma include

  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing, which causes a whistling sound when you breathe out

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. You may have them every day or only once in a while.

When you are having an asthma attack, your symptoms get much worse. The attacks may come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. They are more common in people who have severe asthma. If you are having asthma attacks, you may need a change in your treatment.

What Kind Of Face Mask Should I Wear

Understanding Asthma Triggers

There are many options for cloth face masks. You can buy disposable or reusable face masks at many major retail stores or online, or you can make your own. Fabric made from 100% cotton, such as heavy-duty quilt fabric or a knit T-shirt, can be somewhat effective.

Finding a mask that is comfortable and fits well will provide the best protection, If you feel the need to readjust or pull on your mask, it does not fit well. The CDC recommends:

  • Masks with multiple layers of fabric
  • Masks that fit snugly against the sides of your face without any gaps
  • Masks that cover your nose, mouth, and chin
  • Masks with inner filter pockets
  • Masks with a metal strip or nose guard to keep air from leaking out
  • Using a mask fitter or brace over a disposable or cloth mask to prevent air leaking out of the sides and top
  • Wearing one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask
  • Knot and tuck ear loops of a three-ply mask

Children two years and older should wear a mask that is made for children to ensure a snug without any gaps.

Do not choose masks that:

  • Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, such as vinyl
  • Have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape, unless the inside of the valve/vent is covered by fabric

Do not wear two disposable masks at a time or combine a KN95 mask with any other mask.

The WHO recommends masks that have three layers:

  • An outer water-resistant layer
  • A middle layer of non-woven fabric
  • An inner layer of cotton
  • Avoid touching the face mask while using it.
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    When To See A Doctor

    At the moment, theres no cure for asthma. However, there are many effective treatments that can decrease asthma symptoms. Lifestyle changes and medications can also help improve your quality of life.

    If you havent been diagnosed with asthma but are experiencing symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, you should let your doctor know. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

    Once youre diagnosed with asthma, you should see your doctor at least once a year or more frequently if you have persistent symptoms after using treatments.

    • feel weak
    • cant perform daily activities
    • have a wheeze or cough that wont go away

    Its important to educate yourself about your condition and its symptoms. The more you know, the more proactive you can be in improving your lung function and how you feel.

    Talk with your doctor about:

    • your type of asthma
    • what daily treatments are best for you
    • your treatment plan for an asthma attack

    Asthma Is A Complex Condition

    Occasionally, people with asthma experience what are known as silent symptoms. This is where the signs of the tightening of the airways dont result in the familiar asthma sounds of wheezing and coughing. If you or someone you live with, work with, or care for experiences silent symptoms, it is important they consult a doctor for an ongoing Asthma Action Plan. People around the person with asthmasuch as co-workers, school teachers or daycare educators should know about the silent symptoms so they can respond if needed. Asthma can start at any age, and can be more of a problem when it starts in older adults. Dont assume if you never had asthma as a child that its not possible to develop symptoms now. Being breathless is not a normal part of getting older, it should always be checked out by a doctor.

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    Whats An Asthma Attack

    When you breathe normally, muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air move easily. During an asthma attack, three things can happen:

    • Bronchospasm: The muscles around the airways constrict . When they tighten, it makes the airways narrow. Air cannot flow freely through constricted airways.
    • Inflammation: The airway linings become swollen. Swollen airways dont let as much air in or out of the lungs.
    • Mucus production: During the attack, your body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

    Treatment For Asthma Emergencies In Children

    Astham: Warning Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

    An asthma attack can quickly become an asthma emergency, but if you take quick action, you can reduce the risk of this happening. So, if the symptoms of an asthma attack appear, follow your childs asthma action plan.

    If your child is experiencing a severe or life-threatening asthma attack, call triple zero for an ambulance and then start asthma first aid.:

    • Sit the child upright.
    • Give 4 puffs of reliever medication , taking 4 breaths for each puff. Use a spacer and mask if one is available.
    • Wait 4 minutes if the child still cannot breathe normally, give 4 more puffs.
    • Continue to give 4 separate puffs of reliever medication, taking 4 breaths for each puff, every 4 minutes until the ambulance arrives.

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    Asthma Symptoms In Children

    • Coughing, especially at night
    • A wheezing or whistling sound when breathing, especially when exhaling
    • Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
    • Frequent colds that settle in the chest

    This page was reviewed for accuracy 4/17/2018.

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