Recognizing the early warning signs of asthma is an important step to manage the condition properly. Detecting the symptoms early can facilitate early diagnosis and timely treatment, but identifying these signs isn’t always easy, as they are not the same for everyone. Also, these signs do not necessarily mean that an episode will occur, but they increase the likelihood of an episode.
Common early warning signs of asthma
The early warning signs and symptoms occur just before the onset of an asthmatic attack. These changes occur much earlier than the other commonly known symptoms of asthma begin to show. So, these signs are a clear indicator that a person’s condition is worsening. Generally, the early warning signs of asthma aren’t severe enough to harm a person’s everyday life. By identifying these signs, one can start timely treatment and prevent an asthma attack. Let’s look at a few symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Frequent coughing: This is one of the significant early warning signs of asthma. A person with this condition experiences frequent coughing, especially at night, as the airways tend to become narrow. This increases airflow resistance, and the tightening of the airways leads to increased nocturnal coughing.
- Shortness of breath or losing breath: In asthma, the airways become narrow, swell up, or get filled with mucus, resulting in symptoms like tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. In this condition, the lungs become more prone to irritation, causing shortness of breath.
- Wheezing or coughing during or immediately after a workout: Exercise leads to contraction of the airways, triggering breathing difficulties in some people. This is a common early sign of asthma, which, if not treated, can lead to a severe asthma episode.
- Trouble sleeping at night: As discussed above, the airways become constricted and inflamed at night, making it difficult for a person to breathe. This increases coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness, which are symptoms that further disturb sleep.
- Noticeable signs of cold, allergies, or an upper respiratory infection: Common respiratory illnesses like the flu, common cold, and pneumonia affect the functioning of the lungs. These infections can cause inflammation as well as constricting of the airways, which could sometimes trigger the symptoms of asthma.
A few other common early warning signs of asthma are:
- Exhaustion or weakness, especially after exercising
- Alterations in a peak expiratory flow
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Rapid breathing
If any of these early warning signs of asthma are noticed, one must consult a doctor immediately. Also, it is important to understand that every person does not develop the same symptoms. One might experience all these symptoms or different symptoms at different times, but whatever the case, seeking professional guidance is necessary.