Asthma Library

What’s Asthma?

Who Gets Asthma?

Prevention and Care

Recommended Links

Asthma Index

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When Panic Attacks
When Panic Attacks

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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
Asthma 101: Learn more about asthma and dealing with shortness of breath.
Hypertension 101: Learn more about hypertension and managing your blood pressure.
Nutrition 101: Learn more about improving your nutrition and diet

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Asthma Library: What is Asthma?

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of asthma include chest tightness, difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing. On examination, signs of diffuse wheezing, limited airflow on pulmonary function testing, and complete or partial clearing after bronchodilatory therapy indicate the presence of the disease.

Asthmatic episodes can occur spontaneously or from various triggering factors, such as airborne allergens (including pollen), abrupt changes in weather, irritants (including dust), sulfur dioxide fumes and odors, upper respiratory infections, and psychological or physical stress. Allergen inhalation can cause an immediate asthmatic response, followed by a similar set of symptoms approximately four to six hours later (late asthmatic response).

Symptoms vary with both the specific person with asthma and the severity of the individual attack. Mild attacks can be limited to slight shortness of breath, mild wheezing and rapid heartbeat. In a severe attack, distant breath sounds, loud wheezing and the necessity to use accessory muscles for breathing are noted. If these symptoms progress to fatigue, sweating, faint breath sounds with diminished wheezing, inability to remain in a lying position, or a bluish skin color, the patient requires emergency care.

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