Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of Asthma

Most people think of a wheezing cough when they hear asthma symptoms mentioned. Of course, wheezing is one of the most common symptoms, but simply thinking that this is one of the few that defines this disease is simply not true. Researchers have identified not only a long list of symptoms, but the medical community has even progressed to the point where asthma symptoms can be divided into categories.


The Cleveland Clinic, one of the most renowned medical facilities in the world, has published an exhaustive list of symptoms of asthma within the parameters of these stages, and they appear below:

Early Stage Symptoms

The Cleveland Clinic identifies the following symptoms as 'early warning signs':

  • Frequent cough, especially at night
  • Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath
  • Feeling very tired or weak when exercising
  • Wheezing or coughing after exercise
  • Feeling tired, easily upset, grouchy, or moody
  • Decreases or changes in a peak expiratory flow
  • Signs of a cold, upper respiratory infection, or allergies (sneezing, runny nose, cough, congestion, sore throat, and headache)
  • Trouble sleeping

Symptoms of Progressing Asthma

If the asthma is not diagnosed before it progresses, the following symptoms tend to become more prevalent in a patient:

  • A cough that won't go away (day and night)
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor response to medicines (bronchodilators)

Late Stage Asthma

Much like the earlier stages, if the disease is not identified before this point, the symptoms tend to worsen and present themselves in the following ways:

  • Severe wheezing (both when breathing in and out)
  • Coughing that won't stop
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Inability to catch your breath
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles (retractions)
  • Difficulty talking
  • Inability to fully exhale
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails

As you see, there is a long list of asthma symptoms, and many of them are not well–known by any means. If you or someone you love has experienced any of those asthma symptoms listed above, you do need to obtain medical attention in order to begin the process of properly treating and managing the disease.

The 'good news' is that patients' success rates at managing and living with asthma has skyrocketed in recent years due to unprecedented medical advancements. Don't hesitate if you think you may be suffering from this disease – relief is far more attainable than it has ever been.