Not every person who has asthma will experience the normal symptoms, like wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Here are a few more surprising signs that you have the condition.
If you’re taking a breath every two seconds while at rest, you may want to seek out immediate medical attention. While children generally breathe faster than adults, if you notice your child is breathing more rapidly than normal or isn’t able to breathe easily, you should find help right away, according to the AAAAI.
Acid reflux — i.e., when the contents of your stomach back up into your esophagus — can trigger asthma symptoms, according to the AAAAI. Plus, it can also irritate your respiratory airways or passages, triggering an attack. Avoiding certain foods or taking medication can help alleviate the condition.
More common in children than adults, retractions occur when the skin and muscles at the base of the throat retract or sink in with each breath. This is a sure sign that someone is having difficulty breathing, and according to the AAAAI, asthma could be the culprit.
A dry cough (i.e., one that doesn’t produce any mucus) that starts at night is sometimes the only asthma symptom that many people experience. Called cough-variant asthma (CVA), it may account for as many as a third of those who have a chronic cough. Dust mites, pet dander, and cold air can all set off CVA, says Clifford Bassett, MD, of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York, and the treatment options include quick-relief bronchodilators and long-acting controller medicines.
About 10 to 20 percent of people with asthma say that physical activity can trigger symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath within 5 to 20 minutes of exercising, says Bassett. If you suspect that you have exercise-induced asthma symptoms, ask your doctor whether you should take medication before you work out. Warming up, cooling down, and staying hydrated can help, too.
Having a Hard Time Sleeping
If you wake up coughing or struggle to breathe in the middle of the night, you could have asthma. Treating the condition itself — for example, with the help of your doctor — should help you sleep better, says Dr. Bassett, but it’s important that you seek out help: Too-little sleep can harm your health and cause you to feel less alert and productive during the day.