What are the “unusual” symptoms of Asthma
It is said that “diseases do not read textbooks !!”
Most asthma patients have the typical symptoms of asthma as we have discussed in the previous newsletter. Therefore, it is easy for the doctor to diagnose it as asthma and easy for the patient to accept that it is asthma.
But some have unusual symptoms and this creates difficulties. Such patients suffer a lot because they are not diagnosed easily and in time. Sometimes they are labelled as “psychosomatic” or “Neurotic”. Some unfortunate ones end up getting treated for tuberculosis.
Some patients of asthma only have a dry hacking cough as the sole manifestation of asthma. They have no difficulty in breathing nor do they have wheeze. Even their lung function tests are normal. This is called cough variant asthma. It is treated as usual asthma and it responds well to asthma treatment. It does not respond well to other symptomatic treatments like cough syrups and anti-histamines etc.
Sighing, rapid or shallow breathing can also be asthma. Here one needs to be careful because these symptoms can also be due to psychological stress or anxiety without there being any asthma.
Very prolonged coughs after a viral infection of the chest can sometimes be an indication of asthma. If after every episode of an upper respiratory infection an individual is having troublesome cough which refuses to go away for a month or more, then asthma should be considered.
Feeling uncomfortable at night in lying down and not being able to sleep can happen in asthma. They are unable to sleep due to a discomfort which they cannot clearly describe or they may wake up frequently. In actuality, they have “Nocturnal Asthma”.
Some asthma patients complain of only tiredness as the sole manifestation of asthma. This is more common in elderly patients. Since they do not do vigorous physical activities, they cannot fully realize the breathing difficulty but are simply tired all the time.
Unusual symptoms of asthma are seen more commonly in the extremes of age groups ie. in children and in the elderly.