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Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms of asthma

Symptoms may include wheezing which is a noise made when breathing out, although, in severe cases, it can also be heard when breathing in. Patients tend to have difficulty with breathing which can cause great distress and a lot of muscular effort is required to make the lungs work. There may be a lot of anxiety associated with an episode of asthma.
In milder cases there may be a persistent, tickly cough which is worse with exercise or in cold weather. Symptoms are often worse at night and when lying down.
Some patients have permanent shortness of breath made worse by various triggers such as infection or an inhaled allergen such as pollen. There may also be a tendency to repeated chest infections which can cause further symptoms and distress.

Diagnosis of Asthma

Diagnosis is based on the history, including family history of allergic or breathing problems. Acute episodes are usually straightforward to interpret but chronic, low-grade symptoms can be difficult. A peak flow meter can measure the degree of difficulty in breathing out and is a good indicator of the severity of an episode. These are often prescribed for patients to use at home in order to assess the need to present for or increase treatment. Well managed asthma involves the use of a treatment plan which explains actions to take depending on the peak flow score.
A better assessment involves blowing into a spirometer which gives a much broader idea of lung function. This may be available in some GP surgeries but often involves assessment in a hospital under the care of a chest physician.