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Is It Asthma? Signs of an Attack

By Genevieve Cunningham

There’s no worse sensation than not being able to breathe. Millions of people suffer from a problem with the lungs, making breathing a struggle every day. Some of these diseases, such as COPD, are chronic. Other diseases are a little more intimidating, as the symptoms pop up out of nowhere, but cause major problems. Diseases such as asthma have no cure, but instead the sufferer has to be on constant alert for signs of an exacerbation. Take a look at these signs that an asthma attack may be on its way so that you can get help right away.

The Chest Feels Tight

When an asthma attack occurs, the muscles in the chest constrict, causing many people to feel a tight or pulling sensation in the chest. This also causes the passageways in the lungs to constrict, which means that air has a hard time getting in and out. You might feel that tight sensation followed by an inability to take in or push out enough air. Some describe it as someone sitting on the chest, which gives you an idea of the pressure felt in the area.

You Hear a Wheeze

Many people who have an asthma attack notice a wheezing or rattling sound in the chest. It literally sounds like taking in air is difficult, and results in a hoarse, whistling in the chest. Once you've heard a true wheeze, it's hard to forget. You'll almost certainly be able to notice it in the future. If you notice this sound, even if you’re currently feeling OK, it might be a good idea to have your inhaler on standby, and also keep the doctor on speed dial.

Your Breaths are Short

Asthma is a different sensation than many other lung diseases. While some lung problems make it feel like you can never get enough air in or take a deep enough breath, asthma patients often feel like they’re drowning in it. They can’t push enough air out of the lungs, which means they can’t create enough space to take in the oxygen that they need, either. This may cause short, tight breaths that actually relieve very little pain or panic. The best course of action is to stay as calm as possible and find help right away.

Asthma is definitely not something to ignore. It’s a serious disease with potentially deadly consequences. Pay attention to these signs, be proactive in your condition, and you can manage the disease for a full and productive life.

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