Symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain or tightness, coughing fits and difficulty sleeping due to the aforementioned symptoms, explains Mayo Clinic. The coughing and wheezing grow worse when asthmatics have respiratory illnesses, such as the flu or a chest cold.
Individual cases of asthma vary considerably in severity: some individuals have only mild symptoms, while others experience life-threatening asthma attacks, notes Mayo Clinic. Some patients only experience asthma symptoms in certain situations, such as when they are working around certain chemicals or allergens, while others have symptoms constantly. Asthma can also worsen over time. Needing to use a quick-relief inhaler more frequently and having more trouble breathing than in the past are signs that a patient's asthma is getting worse. Doctors can use a peak flow meter to determine if a patient's breathing capacity has declined.
Asthmatics should be aware of the signs of a life-threatening asthma attack, warns Mayo Clinic. Shortness of breath or wheezing that is quickly becoming more severe indicates a severe asthma attack that requires emergency treatment. Another indicator that an attack is life-threatening occurs when a patient experiences no relief after using albuterol or another quick-relief inhaler. Trouble breathing when engaging in non strenuous forms of physical activity also suggests a potential emergency.