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Asthma in Teens and Adults (cont.)

Symptoms

Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe. You may have no symptoms, severe symptoms every day, or something in between. How often you have symptoms can also change. Symptoms of asthma may include:

  • Wheezing, which is a whistling noise of varying loudness that occurs when the airways of the lungs narrow.
  • Coughing. This is the only symptom for some people.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Shortness of breath, which is rapid, shallow breathing, or difficulty breathing.
  • Sleep disturbance because of coughing or having a hard time breathing.
  • Tiring quickly during exercise.

An asthma attack occurs when your symptoms suddenly increase. Factors that can lead to an asthma attack or make it worse include:

  • Having a cold or another type of respiratory illness, especially one caused by a virus, such as influenza.
  • Exercising (exercise-induced asthma), especially if the air is cold and dry.
  • Exposure to triggers, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, dust mites, or animal dander.
  • Being around chemicals or other substances at work (occupational asthma).
  • Changes in hormones, such as during the start of a woman's menstrual blood flow or pregnancy.
  • Taking medicines, such as aspirin (aspirin-induced asthma) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Nighttime asthma

Many people have symptoms that become worse at night (nocturnal asthma), such as a cough and shortness of breath.

In general, waking at night because of shortness of breath or a cough is a sign of poorly controlled asthma.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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