What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of asthma include:
- shortness of breath
- wheezing – making a noise like a whistle when you breathe out
- tightness in the chest
Sometimes the airways only narrow a little, resulting in mild symptoms. But some people’s airways can become so narrow that they can’t get enough oxygen into their lungs and their bloodstream. This is very dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.
What triggers symptoms?
Anything that irritates and inflames your airways can make your asthma worse. This could be an infection or something you breathe in. The air itself can make asthma worse, for example if you are breathing more quickly or if the air is cold or damp. Common situations – or triggers – are:
- the common cold
- allergies to things like pollen and animal fur
- irritants, like tobacco smoke, spray cleaners and dust
- heightened emotions
- air pollution especially from traffic
Physical activity, particularly running in cold weather, can make asthma worse. This is sometimes called exercise-induced asthma. But don’t avoid exercise. Taking your reliever medication before exercise can often prevent symptoms.