Asthma Home > Asthma Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. More severe symptoms include increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and using the neck and chest muscles to breathe. These signs and symptoms are often brought on by certain asthma triggers, such as cold air, pollen, or dust mites.

Asthma Signs and Symptoms: An Overview

Typical asthma symptoms may include:
  • Cough
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A feeling of tightness in your chest
  • Increased mucus.
These signs and symptoms may occur only occasionally or they may occur daily. They may only occur seasonally in some individuals. Asthma symptoms are often worse at night or upon waking in the morning.

Other Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Other signs may include:
  • Wheezing when you have a cold or other illness
  • Frequent coughing, especially at night (sometimes, this is the only sign of asthma in a child)
  • Asthma symptoms brought on by exercises such as running, biking, or other brisk activity, especially during cold weather
  • Coughing or wheezing brought on by prolonged crying or laughing
  • Coughing or wheezing when near an allergen or irritant.

Severe Signs and Symptoms

In severe cases of asthma, respiratory distress may occur. In this emergency situation, the symptoms may include:
  • Anxiety
  • An increased heart rate
  • An increased rate of breathing
  • Sweating
  • The use of neck and chest muscles to breathe.
If a person is not getting enough oxygen to the lungs, he or she may experience confusion, unconsciousness, and blue skin color. In such cases, immediate medical assistance is needed.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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