Asthma can be recognised by the following symptoms and signs:
- A dry, irritating, persistent cough, particularly at night, early morning, with exercise or activity
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Wheeze (high pitched whistling sound during breathing).
Recognition of a Severe Asthma Attack
Symptoms and signs of a severe asthma attack include some or all the following:
- Gasping for breath (may have little or no wheeze due to little movement of air)
- Severe chest tightness
- Inability to speak more than one or two words per breath.
- Feeling distressed and anxious
- Little or no improvement after using reliever medication.
- ‘Sucking in’ of the throat and rib muscles, use of shoulder muscles or bracing with arms to help breathing.
- Blue discolouration around the lips (can be hard to see if skin colour also changes)
- Pale and sweaty skin
- Symptoms rapidly getting worse or using reliever more than every two hours.
As well as the above symptoms, young children appear restless, unable to settle or become drowsy. A child may also ‘suck’ in muscles around the ribs and may have problems eating or drinking due to shortness of breath. A child also may have severe coughing and vomiting.
An asthma attack can take anything from a few minutes to a few days to develop.