Asthma is a chronic condition that affects about 300 million of the world’s population. It is a serious medical issue that causes more than 4,000 deaths every year in the United States alone.
Asthma is a debilitating disease due to the severity of the symptoms. As with any disease, asthma may affect a person differently, depending on his own risk factors, the level of his condition, and his overall health. Then again, there are common signs of asthma that may be apparent during an asthma attack.
The Major Signs
There are four major signs of asthma.
The first sign is wheezing. Wheezing occurs when you make a hissing or whistling sound as you breathe.
The second major sign is shortness of breath. During an asthma attack, inflammation of the air passages occurs so naturally you will be catching your breath. This happens commonly during nighttime.
The third major sign of an asthma attack is chest tightness. Feeling like some weight is left on your chest is a sure sign of an asthma attack. It also often occurs even without the other symptoms.
The fourth major sign of asthma is cough. Asthmatics are often found with chronic coughing. Usually, coughing becomes apparent or worse during nighttime or early in the morning, after exposure to irritants, or when exposed to extreme weather conditions.
Asthma Symptoms, Classified
The severity of one’s asthma is classified according to the state and frequency of one’s symptoms. Lung function tests are also made to help the doctor determine how far the inflammation has affected the airway passages as well as the lungs.
Based on the figures by several health organizations, 30% of asthmatic patients are considered with mild condition. These patients usually suffer from intermittent attacks, usually less than two times per week. They also usually have normal breathing tests and their symptoms are not as alarming.
Another 30% of the asthma population is considered to have mild but persistent condition. In this case, the patient suffers about two or more asthma attacks per week. The symptoms are moderate and they may either have normal or abnormal breathing tests.
The remaining 40% of the asthma population is considered to have moderate to severe condition. Asthmatics in this case, experience persistent attacks, even daily. They also have abnormal breathing tests, which means that the effect on the lung function is present.
One of the saddest parts about asthma is that a good slice of the young population is affected. It has been found out that asthma may start in early childhood. Childhood asthma has been found in children aged 2 to 6 years. More often than not, the cause of asthma in children is based on environmental risks such as air pollutants and the common irritants found in the surrounding such as dust mites, viral respiratory infections, and tobacco smoke. Asthma occurs to even younger children, even to infants. However, diagnosis may be difficult at that stage as wheezing often disappears when the viral infection is treated.
In any case, treatment of any of the signs of asthma is highly important.