Identifying Asthma Symptoms

Certain symptoms may be signs that you have asthma. Yet, symptoms can be misleading and are not always enough to give a definite diagnosis of asthma.


Facts About Asthma Symptoms

Asthma symptoms can occur in reaction to contact with triggers such as pollen, dust, mold, cold air, smoke, chemicals, pets, and certain foods. They may even be brought on in response to exercise.

Asthma symptoms vary in frequency and severity. Some people have symptoms often, some rarely. Some people have only one troublesome asthma symptom; others have all symptoms. Asthma is a very personal disease. You are the best judge of your asthma symptoms, how difficult they are, and when they are getting better or worse. Your doctor will want to know certain information about your asthma symptoms.


Keep a Record of Asthma Symptoms

Keeping a record of your asthma symptoms will help you control your asthma. An Asthma Diary is an excellent way to gather information day to day about your asthma symptoms. You can record things such as:

  • when your asthma symptoms occur
  • what brings your asthma symptoms on
  • how bad your asthma symptoms are when you have them
  • what makes your asthma symptoms better

Many symptoms related to asthma can be other problems in disguise. Unfortunately, this is why asthma is sometimes missed. You are the expert on what your breathing feels like. The first place to start when asthma is the "suspect" is with you.


Written by Karen Serrano, MD

Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD

Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine

Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University

Board certified in Allergy and Immunology

Last updated June 2008