Asthma - Symptoms

Wheezing is the most obvious symptom of an asthma attack. In most cases, the wheezing is loud and easy to observe. In other cases, it may be soft and hard to hear. A doctor may be able to hear the wheezing only by listening to the patient's chest with a stethoscope. Coughing and tightness in

the chest are other symptoms of asthma. Children sometimes complain of an itchiness on their back or neck at the start of an asthma attack.

A number of other outward signs are associated with an asthma attack. An attack may cause a person to become very anxious. He or she may sit upright, lean forward, or take some other position to make breathing easier. The person may be able to say only a few words before stopping to take a breath.

An attack may cause a person to become confused or may cause his or her skin to turn blue. Confusion and a blue skin color are signs that the person's body is not getting enough oxygen. The person should be given emergency treatment immediately. In the most severe cases, air sacs in the lungs may rupture. This causes air to collect in the chest, making it even more difficult for the person to breathe.

Some asthmatics may be free of symptoms most of the time. They may experience shortness of breath only on rare occasions and for short periods. Other asthmatics are in discomfort much of the time, coughing, wheezing, and trying to breathe normally. In some cases, crying or laughing can bring on an asthma attack.

The most serious attack can occur when a person already has an infection of the respiratory tract. High doses of an allergen can also trigger major attacks. Asthmatic attacks vary in their length as well as seriousness. Some attacks last only a few minutes. Others go on for hours or even days. Except in the most severe cases, patients recover from even the most serious asthma attacks.

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