Asthma is one of the most important health conditions people need to know about even if they don’t have the symptoms. The reason why awareness surrounding asthma, its symptoms and treatments are so important, is because, without proper treatment and knowledge about asthma attacks, they can be fatal.

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Asthma can be diagnosed at any age, under any health condition. Those who have asthma and know it are at less risk of suffering from a fatal attack. However, those who don’t know are more likely to suffer a fatal outcome should an asthma attack occur.

So whether you’ve had an asthma attack before, or have never experienced it and are in good health, it’s time to educate yourself further on this health condition and learn the different warning signs should it occur to you or others around you.

What is Asthma?

Warning Signs You Have Asthma

Asthma is a condition in the body where airways will narrow and tighten due to external conditions. This will eventually lead to wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing.

Dr. Mohammad Rafique, Medical director of Prime Hospital Dubai, believes that “when humidity levels go high, and allergens like dust mites and AC ducts aren’t maintained, then they could trigger asthma.” This indicates that poor air quality is the reason why asthma can be triggered in individuals.

A 2016 publication by ‘Gulf News Health’ showed that one in every six people in the UAE has asthma. And despite medical experts’ efforts to increase awareness of this debilitating breathing condition – the numbers keep rising every year.

As we now know that air quality is one of the main issues in triggering asthma, it’s essential to know its warning signs, how to avoid it from happening to the people around us or us and how to handle it should the emergency occur.

Warning Signs to Identify Asthma

Warning Signs You Have Asthma

1. Difficulty in catching your breath

If you notice that you have difficulty in inhaling and exhaling, then you may have asthma. This may also lead to rapid short breaths. If you have to deeply suck in your chest and stomach to get air when trying to breath or talk, then this is an indication that your airways have narrowed and your body has difficulty in drawing air.

This can also draw persistent and deep coughing, even during sleep. When you notice this happening, use your inhaler to provide you with air and seek help immediately. If difficulty to breath becomes worse and worse without the proper treatment, the below symptoms will occur and can prove fatal.

2. Tightening in chest

Feelings developed in the chest usually indicate the beginning stages of an asthma attack. If you feel swelling, tightening, or even pain coming from the chest area, it means that your airways and lungs have tightened, causing difficulty to breathe.

This can lead to an inability to take deep breaths and can be difficult to stay calm. If this happens, you need to seek help immediately. 

3. Rubbing and/or scratching nose and throat

This is a common sign when one is exposed to an asthma trigger and is often a behaviour also found in young children when they have asthma. Triggers such as dust mites, pollen, mould spores, and common colds usually draw this type of behaviour.

This is the result of itchy nostrils and throat when bad air is inhaled and triggers asthma. This practice also increases phlegm production and can result in sneezing and coughing.

4. Impaired cognitive ability

When the symptoms of asthma, such as difficulty breathing and tightening of chest occur, the cognitive ability will also be impaired. This can lead to confusion, dizziness, and even fainting. Those who reach this stage also have difficulty carrying conversations and will have slurred speech.

This is due to the inability of air to pass through to the brain and general weakness in the body. When a person shows symptoms of cognitive impairment, you need to treat them medically or take them to a hospital immediately. 

5. Fatigue and tiredness after physical activity

If you are feeling more tired than usual or your body doesn’t have the amount of energy as it usually would, then you may have asthma. As air circulation is cut short and difficult to flow when airways narrow, your energy levels will significantly drop without you even realizing it.

This also means you may feel tired quickly after short periods of low-intensity workouts. If you think that this symptom may relate to you, speak with a medical professional as soon as possible.

Should you keep on going with your asthma undiagnosed, your health condition can worsen and prove fatal.

How to Prevent Asthma Attacks

Warning Signs You Have Asthma
  • Have an action plan. Your doctor or healthcare provider will develop an action plan you can use to improve your condition. This keeps you on top of your condition by preventing and handling asthma. Asthma is an ongoing condition that needs regular monitoring and treatment. Stay on top of it, so you don’t have to worry about an attack.
  • Avoid trigger places. Develop an understanding of the different triggers of your asthma, how they affect you and the external environment surrounding you. This will help you to stay away from places that have high amounts of pollen or dust. In the long term, this will help to prevent you from getting an attack.
  • Monitor your breathing. Always make sure your breathing is normal and regular. Any irregular breathing patterns or behaviours need to be treated immediately. Whether it’s from coughing, difficulty breathing, tightening of the chest or swelling in the throat, treat it as an asthma attack and take all the safety measures. Asthma may happen when you least expect it, so even when your breathing pattern is fine, and you are in good health, always be sure to remember and stick to your action plan as well as having your inhaler ready.
  • Get vaccinated. Preventing asthma attacks also means keeping your general health in order. By getting vaccinated, you protect your immune system from contracting flu, common colds and viruses that may contribute to asthma.

When to See a Doctor

Warning Signs You Have Asthma

It’s best to consult with a doctor immediately if you suspect any of the above symptoms in you. Once you speak with a doctor, they can prescribe you with the right medication and how to handle a serious emergency should you have an asthma attack.

Most of the time, you will be prescribed with an inhaler. An inhaler is a portable device for administering a drug which is to be breathed in. This helps provide instant relief by enabling the person to breathe during asthma attacks. It also helps with nasal congestion.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.