If you sometimes have difficulty breathing, you may wonder how to know if you have asthma. Making that determination can be challenging. However, it’s important that you do because that will allow you to get the proper treatment. Learning about the condition can give you insight on how to tell if you have asthma. You should also talk with your doctor.
The Basics: How to Tell If You Have Asthma
If you’re curious about how to detect asthma, a good place to start is understanding what it is and the symptoms it produces. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways that go from your mouth and nose to your lungs. This swelling can be caused by a number of triggers such as cigarette smoke, pollen, animal dander, mold, or even just cold air. The inflammation is accompanied by tightening of the muscles around the airways, and the combination of these factors makes it hard to breathe, especially during what’s called an “asthma attack.”
The five main symptoms of asthma are:
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath. This is the feeling that you can’t catch your breath. It is an alarming sensation, and it may come on suddenly. It makes it difficult to perform physical activities.
- Tightness in the chest. People with asthma describe this as an unpleasant feeling that air isn’t moving in their lungs or an uncomfortable restriction in their chest. This symptom can cause anxiety about the ability to get enough air.
- Wheezing sounds when breathing. This type of whistling sound is the symptom most people associate with asthma. It’s heard most clearly when exhaling.
- Coughing fits. Coughing associated with asthma is more common at night. Coughing fits can also be brought on by exercise.
- Poor sleep due to breathing problems. Difficulty breathing can make it hard to sleep. Consequently, people with asthma may feel tired during the day.
Some of the ways that having asthma can affect your daily routine include that you feel like your colds are much worse than those of your family and friends, and that when you work out, you seem to struggle more than those doing the same activities. Also, you may feel fatigued and lacking energy much of the time.
How Do You Know If Your Baby or Child Has Asthma?
Children can have asthma, so parents often ask, “How can you tell if a baby has asthma?”. First, babies have the same asthma symptoms as adults. They also may have trouble feeding and may make grunting sounds when nursing. Asthma can’t be definitively diagnosed in babies, but you should talk with your baby’s doctor if you have concerns.
How Do You Know If You Are Having an Asthma Attack?
How to know if you’re having an asthma attack is important, as it allows you to take action to minimize it or get medical help. Some people report that their chin itches just prior to an attack. Doctors aren’t sure why that occurs. From there, an asthma attack generally includes:
- Rapid breathing
- Severe wheezing
- Trouble speaking
- Coughing that doesn’t stop
- Chest pressure and tightness
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Pale skin
- Anxiety or panic
If you’re having an asthma attack, you should seek treatment immediately.
When to See a Doctor for Asthma
Once you understand how to detect asthma and start to see signs like frequent bouts of wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing, you should talk with your doctor or an asthma specialist. They can perform tests to determine if you actually have the condition or if something else is causing your breathing issues.
If you do have asthma, there are medications you can take to control it and to address asthma attacks if they occur. Learn more about asthma treatment from Baptist Health.