Asthma is one of the many complex conditions that affects people of all ages. Asthma sufferers will often experience symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, and continuous cough. Having an asthma treatment is a way to keep these symptoms at bay, but some symptoms may still sneak up on you. Before you know it, your asthma is getting worse, and it becomes a life-threatening condition.
Several factors could worsen your asthma. Some patients experience asthma symptoms when they encounter specific triggers, such as smoke, dust mites, and pests. However, some asthmatic patients only get the symptoms through physical exertion, such as exercising.
Aside from having treatment, it’s important to recognize when your condition isn’t well-managed. Here are eight signs that your asthma is getting worse:
1. You’re using your inhaler more often
Do you find yourself reaching for your inhaler more often during the day? Whether you’ve been feeling breathless or needing quick relief, using your inhaler frequently is a bad sign that indicates your asthma is getting worse. Tracking your inhaler usage would be helpful for you and your doctor to monitor your condition.
Tip: Use a note-taking app to record your inhaler usage.
2. Waking up at night with coughing or wheezing
One of the clinical manifestations of asthma is coughing or wheezing. These symptoms may worsen at night and cause a fit that can jolt you awake. Properly managed asthma reduces the chances of this happening to once or twice a month.
If it happens more than twice, discuss a change in your treatment method with your health practitioner.
3. Increased difficulty breathing
Properly managed asthma symptoms should not interfere with your daily activities, and it should alarm you if these activities trigger symptoms. If something as simple as climbing the stairs or walking around your neighborhood sets off your asthma symptoms, this is a clear sign that your asthma is getting worse.
4. A drop in peak flow meter readings
Doctors recommend that people with asthma have a peak flow meter at home. It’s a handheld device that measures how well your lungs are functioning at their best. If you see that your peak flow levels drop below 80% and vary greatly from day to day, consider these as danger signs of being managed out.
When this happens, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Provide them with a record of your peak flow levels to help them update your asthma management.
5. Your chest constantly feels tight
Do you feel like there is a heavy weight on top of your chest while you’re sitting still? If you’ve felt this way throughout the day, your asthma might be getting worse.
Chest pain and tightness happen when muscles surrounding your airways contract due to asthma triggers. Though minor chest tightness is common for asthmatic people, experiencing it frequently can mean that your symptoms are not well-controlled. Speak with your doctor about modifying your treatment.
6. You miss school or work
An asthma flare-up can happen at any time of the day, especially during times of high stress. Worsening asthma can cause frequent flare-ups that make you miss school or work. If these keep you from work or school regularly, you need to ask your doctor to change your medications to get your asthma symptoms under control.
7. You have trouble speaking
Talking can be taxing for people with severe asthma. Why? The lungs need to take enough air and release it at a slow, deliberate pace to produce speech. So, when you pause and take a breath in between sentences, your lungs might be having a hard time regulating your breathing.
If this happens to you more than once, give your doctor a call about your asthma management.
8. You can’t finish your workout
Keeping an active lifestyle is beneficial for people with asthma. However, if you’re coughing in the middle of your workout that’s caused you to stop and reach for an inhaler, call your doctor because you might need to change your medications.
Asthma is a lifelong condition, meaning those diagnosed with it will have to manage it throughout their lives. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. There are doctors and specialists who dedicate their lives to ensuring that your asthma doesn’t interfere with your everyday life. Remember to only trust trained and certified professionals to treat your asthma symptoms!
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