Asthma can be either acute or chronic in its presentation.

I. Acute Asthma

It may be caused by allergens, exercise, infection or may be spontaneous. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in breathing out.
  • Tightness of chest with breathlessness.
  • Persistent Cough usually worse at night.
  • Wheezing (whistling sound) which is usually expiratory (when breathing out).
  • Consciousness of increased respiratory rate/ heart rate.
  • In some cases, the attack may be severe where it is termed as‘Status Asthmaticus’ (life threatening attack of asthma). In Status Asthmaticus, second attack of asthma occurs even before the first subsides making the attack more severe and prolonged. Respiratory symptoms are accompanied by increased respiratory rate, pulse rate and heart rate, sweating, anxious and pale or blue face, and severe central cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the body).

II. Chronic Asthma

Symptoms include:

  • Tightness of the chest, wheeze and breathlessness on exertion together with spontaneous cough and wheeze during night and early morning.
  • Chronic asthmatic patient
    • usually breathes from his mouth.
    • is a daily wheezer.
    • coughs more at night with varying amounts of phlegm.
    • has rounded shoulder with barrel shaped chest.
  • Severe asthma persisting from childhood may cause a ‘Pigeon Chest’ deformity.