Signs and symptoms
In Asthma the elasticity of the air ways is decreased making it narrow. In a response to external allergens the smooth muscles in the airways constrict and narrow excessively followed by an inflammatory reaction by the immune system.This inflammatory reaction results in swelling of the airways and excess mucus secretion resulting into wheezing, cough and breathlessness.
The most common symptoms are Persistent cough with wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound while breathing).
Difficulty in breathing with tightness in chest,
Cough with mucus (not present in all cases),
breathlessness causing exhaustion.
The most important and distressing symptom of asthma is the difficulty in breathing or suffocation mostly at night or early morning which varies in intensity from person to person.
A person can experience asthma attacks once in a week to once in a year.
Note: Having all these symptoms is the final proof that a person has got asthma, there are many other diseases having similar set of symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis a lung function test along with physical examination and history taking is a must.
Factors which initiates or aggravates asthma attacks are called as trigger factors.
Some common trigger factors:
Certain allergic tendencies to allergens from dust and pollens, animal fur,flowers, cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals at work, etc.
Few medicines can also act as trigger such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes anti hypertensive beta-blockers.
Food allergies are common in many patients usually with foods and drinks containing sulphite.
Frequent viral upper respiratory infections
Vigoros physical activity as in exercise.