World Asthma Day: Learn to Spot the Warning Signs

Asthma is a potentially life-threatening condition. It causes difficulty breathing due to the airways narrowing, swelling, and producing mucus. Asthma attacks can be triggered by allergens, irritants in the air (including chemicals and air pollution), stress, infection, or exercising. The disease can occur in patients of all ages, and so it’s important that everyone knows what the warning signs are. 


The following warning signs may precede an asthma attack. If you notice any of these symptoms for more than a few days, consult your pulmonologist:

1. A persistent, dry cough (especially at night or when exposed to known triggers);

2. Shortness of breath, either in general or after exercising;


3. Becoming very tired or feeling very weak when exercising;

4. Wheezing or coughing, either in general or after exercising;

5. Difficulty breathing or tightness in the chest;


6. A decrease in lung function (as measured by your doctor on a peak flow meter);

7. Frequent or long-lasting (more than 10 days) chest colds or persistent allergy symptoms;


8. Trouble sleeping;

9. Tiredness and mood swings.

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or your child, see your pulmonologist or Family Medicine doctor. Either of these physicians can perform specialized testing, allergy testing, or lung function testing. You can also work with your doctor to make an asthma-management plan, which may involve medications or behavioral changes that can decrease your risk of having an asthma attack.


Katherine Bi