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Asthma Symptoms

If you have asthma, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Wheezing - A whistling sound heard when breathing in or out.

Coughing - A cough that may not go away and often occurs or worsens at night or early morning.

Chest Tightness - Feeling as if something is squeezing or sitting on your chest.

Shortness of Breath - Feeling as though you can’t catch your breath. You may feel as though you are breathless.

Each person may experience different asthma symptoms. Symptoms can vary over time in both frequency (symptoms every few months to every day) and severity (mild to severe). You can play a very important role in managing your asthma by avoiding triggers, monitoring your symptoms, and doing other things as outlined by your healthcare provider.

Asthma can sometimes be hard to live with, but it doesn’t always have to be. Talk with your provider to learn how to best control your asthma.

Take the Asthma Control Test™ to assess how well controlled your asthma symptoms are, and bring the results with you when you talk to your healthcare provider. Be sure to mention which symptoms you’re experiencing and how often they’re occurring. This will help your healthcare provider determine the best way to manage your asthma.

When asthma symptoms can get worse

One of the most important things you can do to help manage your asthma is work with your healthcare provider to identify and minimize your exposure to your asthma triggers. Triggers are allergens, irritants, or conditions that may cause your asthma symptoms to worsen. It's important to learn about asthma triggers.

Asthma is a chronic condition. Asthma symptoms can get worse in the middle of the night. Factors that cause your asthma symptoms to worsen at night may include:

  • Your body clock
    Your body makes certain substances that protect against inflammation. Levels of these substances can be lower at night, which may be the reason you experience worsening symptoms during this time.
  • Sinus infections or postnasal drip
    This is caused by allergens such as dust mites or pet dander.
  • Heartburn, or GERD
    Heartburn, which can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is caused by stomach acid backing up into your esophagus or sometimes into your throat. If you have GERD, lying down can make your heartburn and your asthma symptoms worse. If you are having nighttime asthma symptoms, try not to eat too close to bedtime, and ask your healthcare provider about GERD. Treating GERD may help to improve asthma symptoms in people who have both conditions.

Keep track of how often you are having trouble sleeping or waking during the night due to your asthma symptoms. This may help you and your healthcare provider address the problem.

During pregnancy, some women find that their asthma improves, while others find it worsens or stays the same. So if you have asthma and are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about what you might expect and what you can do about asthma symptoms.

Some medicines can trigger asthma symptoms. These medicines include prescription medications and over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, cold medicines, nonsteroidal pain relievers (for example, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium), and even some eyedrops used to treat glaucoma. Talk to your healthcare provider about all of the medications you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines. Keep a list and show it to your provider at each visit.

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