Is Asthma Painful?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the bronchial tubes, which transport air to and from the lungs. During a flare-up of this condition, or an asthma attack, the airways swell, become more narrow, and fill with mucus, making breathing difficult. Asthma affects people with varying severity – for some patients, it may be a mere minor inconvenience, while for others an attack may become life threatening.

Just as the severity of the condition ranges on a person to person basis, so does the severity of symptoms. Some asthma sufferers have consistent difficulty breathing while others suffer asthma attacks very rarely. Some asthma sufferers have very easy to identify triggers, while others may have a harder time pinpointing the cause of their attacks. While the timing and severity of asthma attacks may vary, the symptoms themselves are often the same, and may include:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Wheezing

  • Tightness or pain in the chest

The severity of asthma may change for a patient over the course of his/her life. If you notice asthma symptoms occurring more frequently, more regularly experiencing difficulty breathing, and/or needing to use a rescue inhaler more frequently, your asthma may be becoming more severe. See your doctor if you feel your asthma is getting worse. Your medication may need to be adjusted.

Severe asthma attacks may be life threatening. Your doctor will likely prescribe a rescue inhaler for you to deal with minor asthma attacks, but severe attacks may call for further medical attention. You may be having an asthma emergency if you experience:

  • Shortness of breath that quickly gets more severe

  • No relief after the use of a rescue inhaler

  • Difficulty breathing performing minor physical activity


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