African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than the White population, which is why it’s so important to recognize, and know how to respond to, asthma attacks and asthma emergencies.
Some asthma symptoms may develop days before tests show any decreases in lung function, but sometimes, asthma symptoms develop suddenly.
The most common symptoms of asthma or an attack include:
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• Coughing, especially at night or during exercise
• Wheezing or losing your breath easily
• Tightness in the chest
• Runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and other typical allergy or cold symptoms
• Fatigue and weakness, especially during exercise
• Trouble sleeping
Your Asthma Action Plan
What should you do if you have any of these asthma attack signs?
If you have asthma, your first step should be to come up with an asthma action plan that best suits your individual needs. This simple set of steps may include measuring your breathing capacity with a device called a spirometer and taking a dose of quick relief inhaler medication. Your doctor may also want you to change the dose of your daily maintenance therapy to help control your asthma.
Asthma Emergency Warning Signs
More serious warning signs include:
• Symptoms that keep getting worse, even with treatment
• Difficulty catching your breath or talking
• Flaring your nostrils as you breathe
• Sucking in your chest or stomach with each breath
• Difficulty walking
• A bluish or grayish tinge to your lips or fingernails
If you have any of these asthma symptoms, you should seek emergency medical help immediately.
Asthma: Know Your OWN Warning Signs
While the lists above describe some of the more common asthma symptoms, it is still only a general guide. You may have other asthma warning signs that are distinct to you, and it’s vital that you know what those are so that you can take action early, reduce the severity of your attacks, or even prevent them.