Some people like to wear T shirts and jeans. Some (like me) dress outlandishly, and others prefer the standard business dress. Each person has an individual style in clothing...
In the same way each asthmatic will experience their asthma differently. Some have very severe symptomson a daily basis and yet some hardly ever experience discomfort. In addition, some people respond right away to medication, some have to experiment and adjust for a while before finding the right combinations or dosages. Some asthmatics are lucky enough to have only a few triggers and some, unfortunately, will have many. This is why it is so hard for medical personnel to diagnose and treat asthma.
Additionally, it is also worth noting that Asthma shares most symptoms with other forms of COPD like Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis or Reactive croup. While that is bad enough, it can have similar symptoms also to heart disease, some cancers and severe allergies. With this in mind, do not attempt to self diagnose your possible asthma. Instead, print out this list, highlight the symptoms that apply to you and then see your doctor if you have reason to suspect asthma. Do this for a diagnosis, even if you wish to persue alternative forms of treatment as you need to verify your suspicions and treatment with someone who knows what they are doing.
Common Symptoms of Asthma: General
1. Wheezing - You may experience a high pitched whistling sound while breathing. It varies with the severity of the asthma attack. It is sometimes so faint you need a stethescope to hear it, other times you can hear it above the din in a crowded room. Wheezing is an indication of obstructed breathing, but it is not always an indicator of the safety of the asthmatic episode. With Status Asthmaticus, a very deadly asthmatic event, all wheezing stops. While not wheezing, the patient is actually in grave danger.
2. Coughing - It is usually non-productive and often the only symptom of asthma in children. Asthmatic coughing should not be treated with cough suppressants, see a doctor.
3. Chest Tightness - Often chest tightness is the only symptom of Asthma especially in exercise induced and nocturnally triggered forms. Since this is also a symptom of heart trouble, it is wise to check this out immediately. Do this especially if it becomes uncomfortable and does not go away with the use of an inhaler. Also, over the counter treatments like Primatine Mist may keep you alive during a severe attack, but it is no substitute for a trip to the hospital.
4. Recurrent Respiratory Disease - Repeated cases of illness such as Pneumonia and Bronchitis or Croup are common in asthmatics - especially children. If you see a pattern, talk to your doctor about it.
5. Abdominal Breathing - When discomfort in the chest or lungs makes breathing uncomfortable, the body will often adjust automatically to make it less troubled for you by causing you to breathe from the abdomen instead. This, however, does not help keep the lungs strong or efficient, so often breathing tests and exercises will be used by doctors to counter this effect.
6. Higher Respiratory Rate - The patient will be breathing more often due to the decrease in airflow.
Episodic Symptoms of Asthma: "The Attack"
Asthma attacks may come on suddenly and leave shortly after treated; sometimes they come on slowly and last for weeks. Please keep that in mind while reading the below information.
1. Initial Stages: Wheezing may begin if it was never there before. The you may feel breathless periodically, especially after exercise or during periods of stress. Lying down does not cause discomfort and may relieve the symptoms completely or partially. At this stage you may be more agitated than normal. Full-blown attacks might possibly be avoided by special care to health and environmental management procedures at this stage. Sit down, get out of the smoke, slow down, relax and if necessary use an inhaler.
2. Secondary Stages: You will feel breathless while talking or during physical activity. You can still lie down but will prefer an elevated position which makes breathing less stress and might seem agitated or cranky to others. Small children will seem whiney. Rescue treatments may be indicated at this stage for some; others may use longer acting bronchodialators and/or leukotriene agents. The medical response to this stage varies between asthmatics due to the differences in their overall medical treatment plan and their personal body chemistry. I would recommend seeing a doctor before trying to devise a strategy on your own.
3. Advanced/Severe Stages: You are breathless during rest, which has not helped and always sit upright so you can breathe. You will talk in broken sentances and it is obvious to onlookers that something is wrong. You will have heavy breathing and may be gasping. You will feel desperate and definately agitated. Rescue procedures are usually indicated at this stage and with most people, it is wise to seek emergency treatment - especially if the rescue treatment does not work.
4. Critical Stage: This stage is deadly if untreated. What makes it the most dangerous is that often you will appear to have gotten over your attack. Please go to this page for a good breakdown of symptoms and a description of what happens within the body to cause it.
I hope you found this list of symptoms to be helpful. If you are unsure if you have Asthma and have not been diagnosed by a doctor, you may want to print them, highlight the ones which trouble you and bring it to your doctor's attention.
For a working definition of Asthma, Click Here!
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