Asthma symptoms

First stage: Early warning


Early warning signs are the very symptoms you will feel as your asthma starts to flare up. The flare causes the sides of the airways in the lungs to swell. Less air gets in and out of the lungs and mucus clogs the airways even more. Some symptoms of an asthma flare include:

  • Coughing is one of the most common signs
  • Not sleeping through the night
  • Stomachache
  • Moodiness
  • Sneezing
  • Cold symptoms
  • Trouble breathing
  • Symptoms with exercise

Second stage: Asthma attack

Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Third stage: Emergency

  • Shortness of breath at rest
  • Trouble walking
  • Trouble talking
  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Lips or fingernails are pale blue or gray in color
  • Uncontrolled cough
  • Retractions (skin sinking in between ribs)
  • Nose opens wider

Even people with mild asthma can have severe asthma symptoms. You can control your asthma by knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack, staying away from things that cause attack, and following your health care provider’s advice. When you control your asthma:

  • There are no symptoms like wheezing or coughing
  • You will sleep better
  • There are no missed school or work days
  • You can take part in all physical activities
  • You won’t have to go to the hospital
Adapted from