Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Asthma symptoms

Asthma Symptoms

Asthma is an ongoing disease, among millions of people worldwide. The number of people, who are becoming the victims of this dreadful disease are increasing at an alarming rate. People of all age groups are seen suffering from this disease. 

Asthma is caused due to the combination of many factors, like the heredity or the genetics, and the factors related to the environment. The asthma symptoms can be triggered, even upon exposure to the pollen from the flowers.

Asthma is a chronic disease, which lasts for a lifetime. It’s symptoms are produced due to the inflammation or swelling of the respiratory tract, or the airway. This inflammation is caused upon exposure to allergens, like pollen, dust, house-mites, fur of cats, and dander of animals. Even exposure to cold air is an important trigger for the asthma symptoms.

Wheezing and Rhonchi:

Wheezing and rhonchi are the abnormal sounds, which are produced, when the people with asthma breath. When the asthmatics are exposed to dust, a substance called histamine is released from the body, which causes contraction of the airway. This contraction is called bronchospasm;and it restricts the airflow, leading to abnormal sounds like wheezing, and rhonchi. 

These rhonchi are heard, both during the inspiration and expiration, or breathing in and out. Initially they are heard only during expiration, and later during inspiration. So, asthma is called a disease of expiration.

Difficulty in breathing:

As the airflow through the respiratory tract is restricted, breathing becomes very difficult. It leads to dyspnea or shortness of breath. Difficulty in breathing is one of the most common symptoms of asthmatic people.


When breathing becomes difficult for a person, due to any reason, our body tries to compensate for it. Our body has a complex set of mechanisms, which try to overcome many problems of the body. To overcome the shortness of breath, our body tries to enhance the rate of breathing, which is called tachypnea. So, an asthmatic person is seen to be breathing very fast.

Flaring of nostrils:

We have already seen that an asthmatic person has fast breathing or tachypnea. When anything needs to be done in a fast manner, certain additional structures of the body need to be involved. In asthmatics, accessory muscles of respiration are involved, to increase the rate of breathing. Accessory muscles of respiration, are the ones which usually aid in the process of breathing. 

They are the sternocleidomastoid, scalenus and the alae nasi. Alae nasi are the small muscles which are present on either side of the nostrils. The flaring of these nostrils or alae nasi is seen, when the asthmatic person is breathing very fast.


Cough is a symptom of many types of respiratory diseases. Almost all the diseases related to the lungs, and the airways, have cough as one of the important symptom. Cough is also an important symptom of asthma. In fact, there is a type of asthma called the cough variant asthma, in which the only symptom present is cough. 

These patients have no other asthma symptoms. So, diagnosis becomes extremely difficult in these people. Cough variant asthma is often misdiagnosed as some other respiratory disease - By Dr.Deepti