Asthma attack warning symptoms to look out for

Article By: Reanna Smith, Gemma Jones

We have taken a look at some of the most common types of asthma and have found out how to spot the early warning signs

Asthma is a lung condition which affects an estimated 300 million people globally.

According to Asthma and Lung UK, four people die every day in the UK because of an asthma attack. Therefore, it is vital that asthma sufferers get proper treatment for their condition, and part of this is recognising when you might have asthma.

A common misconception is that the illness only appears in childhood. However, people can develop asthma at any point in their lives.

We have taken a look at some of the most common types of asthma and have found out how to spot the early warning signs.

What are the most common types of asthma?
There are many different types of asthma and each type can be brought on by different triggers. Some of the most common types of asthma include:

Allergic asthma - with this type of asthma symptoms begin after you inhale an allergen such as dust mites or pollen

Exercise-induced asthma - exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, this type of asthma is triggered by exercise

Occupational asthma - If you have asthma symptoms at work you may have occupational asthma, this is triggered by inhaling irritants in the workplace

Adult-onset asthma - When someone is diagnosed with asthma after the age of 20 it is known as adult-onset asthma

Childhood asthma - Most children with childhood asthma will develop asthma symptoms before the age of five

Nocturnal asthma - Also known as night-time asthma, this is when asthma symptoms present themselves at night

Seasonal asthma - This is a type of allergic asthma that occurs due to allergens and asthma triggers at certain times of the year

Cough variant asthma - With this type of asthma the main symptom is a dry cough

Non-allergic asthma - This is a type of asthma that isn't related to allergy triggers like pollen or dust

Severe asthma - This is the most serious type of asthma

Brittle asthma - This is a rare form of severe asthma that can suddenly develop into life-threatening asthma attacks

What are the first warning signs of asthma?
Before an asthma attack, some early warning signs often happen. It's important to know what the first symptoms of asthma are, by spotting these symptoms early you could prevent an asthma attack or stop it from getting worse. Some of the warning signs can include:

A frequent cough

Shortness of breath

Wheezing or coughing after exercise

Difficulty sleeping

Feeling tired or weak

Signs of allergies like a running nose, sore throat or headache

A tight chest

Many things can cause similar symptoms to asthma, but it is likely the cause if the symptoms listed above happen often, are worse at night or in the morning, and if they happen in response to triggers like allergies.

Symptoms of an asthma attack
When symptoms of asthma get worse, this is known as an asthma attack. They can happen suddenly or come on gradually and they can even last for a few days. Common symptoms of asthma attacks include:

Wheezing, coughing and chest tightness that is severe and constant

Breathlessness that makes it difficult to speak, sleep or eat

A fast heartbeat

Fast breathing

Feeling confused, drowsy or dizzy


Blue lips or fingers

According to the NHS, someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack every 10 seconds in the UK. If you have an asthma attack you should sit up straight and try to remain calm, you should also one puff of your inhaler every 30 to 60 seconds up to 10 puffs. If you do not feel better after this then you should call an ambulance.

What are the first warning signs of asthma?
There is no evidence to suggest that people who suffer from asthma are more likely to get infected with Covid-19. However, some studies have found that certain types of asthma sufferers could be at risk of developing a more serious illness from infection with Covid-19 when compared to the rest of the population.

Whilst most asthma sufferers are not at a higher risk, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people with moderate to severe asthma or uncontrolled asthma are more likely to be hospitalised from Covid-19. Some studies also suggest that those with non-allergic asthma may also be at a slightly greater risk of developing severe illness.

To protect against severe illness from Covid-19, asthma sufferers are advised to keep their asthma under control by following an action plan and also to avoid triggers. Speak to your GP if you are worried.


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