Asthma symptoms may differ somewhat in adults and children. In addition, severity and duration of symptoms vary from mild to severe.
Common asthma symptoms include:
Warning Signs of an Impending Asthma Attack
There are warning signs that signal an impending asthma attack. By learning to recognize these early symptoms as warning signs, you can help prevent attacks or reduce their severity.
What Happens During an Asthma Attack?
Exposure to asthma triggers can cause airways to contract and become inflamed, narrowed, and clogged with mucus. Less room is available for air to flow in and out of the lungs. The duration of the asthma attack varies. Attacks range from mild to severe and last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. During attacks, bronchial muscles go into spasm, causing air to be trapped in tiny air breathing sacs in the lungs, called alveoli. Asthma attacks may be fatal if not identified and treated.
Airway Narrowed Due to Mucus Plugs
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Asthma symptoms. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.acaai.org/allergist/asthma/symptoms/Pages/default.aspx . Accessed September 13, 2012.
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/learning-more-about-asthma/symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatment.html . Accessed September 13, 2012.
Asthma in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated September 7, 2012. Accessed September 13, 2012.
Asthma exacerbation in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated August 27, 2012. Accessed September 13, 2012.
Braunwald E. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2001.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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