Asthma Chest & Allergy Centre

A centre of excellence providing treatment of Asthma, Allergies and Chest Diseases since 1992

What are the usual symptoms of Asthma

The basic problem in asthma is that the air tubes of the patient are “over-sensitive”. There is a very nice word in hindi for this: “chid chida”. So the airways of an asthmatic are like a touch me not plant or chhui mui.

They react to environmental factors like temperature variations, dust, pollens, pollution and viral infections in an exaggerated manner and this causes them to do 3 things:

  • Get constricted or obstructed
  • Produce more phlegm
  • Produce chemical that cause cough

Now it will be easy to understand the usual symptoms of asthma.

So the usual symptoms of asthma are:

  • Chest tightness
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Phlegm production
  • Wheeze

Let’s take them one by one, and in a little more detail.

Asthma patients usually complain of chest tightness or a load over the chest or a difficulty in breathing deeply. Some say they are unable to get a satisfactory breath.

Most asthmatics complain of going out of breath when they do physical exertion like running or climbing stairs etc.

Cough is also a common symptom of asthma. It is usually a dry cough but may some produce phlegm too. Too much phlegm production is NOT a feature of asthma. The cough is typically more in the early morning hours or late at night. Cough happening after laughing or crying is very suggestive of asthma. It is also more pronounced on exposure to smoke, dust smells etc.

The phlegm of an asthmatic usually has two important characteristics: it is sticky and greenish colored.

“ Wheeze “ is what is usually considered the hallmark of asthma. It is a whistling sound produced from the lungs due to air passing through the narrowed airways. It can be heard by the doctor with a stethoscope. Many a times the patient or the patient’s relatives can hear it from a distance.

All these symptoms of asthma are more when:

  • There is a change of season (due to more pollens or fungal spores)
  • After a viral infection of the chest. Normal people recover fast but an asthmatic will continue to cough for weeks or even months after an upper respiratory viral infection.
  • There is exposure to smoke or dust or painting in the house.

The above pattern of symptoms strongly points towards asthma.