The symptoms of bronchial asthma can occur at different times depending on the severity of the disease, the stimulus that triggers it and the severity of the illness. Asthma – attacks with the specific symptoms are only the “tip of the iceberg”. Even during an apparently symptom-free interval, the disease of bronchial asthma can be detected by the underlying chronic inflammation of the airways.
Typical symptoms of asthma brochiale
In the following, the typical symptoms of asthma are presented in an overview. These will then be discussed in more detail. – Shortness of breath
- Shortness of breath
- Breath sounds such as whistling exhalation (gulling) and humming
- Chest tightness
- Increased breathing frequency
- Increased heart rate
Shortness of breath
The sudden onset of shortness of breath is the leading symptom of an acute asthma attack. In the interval, i.e. the phase in which there is no acute attack, the patients are usually free of symptoms and shortness of breath is rare. In most cases, the acute asthma attack is preceded by shortness of breath, which can increase within a few minutes to a severe shortness of breath.
In bronchial asthma it is particularly difficult to exhale. Breath sounds are heard during exhalation and patients feel that they can no longer get the air out of their lungs. For this reason, certain postures are often adopted, even unconsciously.
In acute asthma attacks, the so-called coach seat helps to ease the exhalation a little. Here the patient sits upright with the arms and hands resting on the thighs or knees. In this position the so-called respiratory muscles in the chest, back and abdomen are activated.
This makes breathing out a little easier. Also the use of the so-called lip brake often helps patients with acute shortness of breath during an asthma attack to improve their breathing somewhat. Here the lips are pointed during exhalation so that the exhalation takes place against a resistance. This sounds paradoxical at first, but for many patients it is a small help to improve their breathing a little bit during an acute attack. In case of acute respiratory distress during an asthma attack, however, the immediate application of an appropriate emergency spray is indispensable.
As already mentioned, especially during an asthma attack certain breathing sounds occur, which are amplified when breathing out. Typical are a wheezing or humming which will be explained in the following. In medical jargon, there are two typical breathing sounds that can occur during an acute asthma attack: The wheezing and the humming.
Both noises occur mainly during exhalation (expiration). The wheezing is caused by the airways being constricted during an acute asthma attack. The air flowing out of the alveoli via the bronchi must therefore pass through a narrower path than in normal cases.
The resistance against which the air must escape is greatly increased. The escape of the air against the significantly increased resistance is called gulling. It is a whistling sound that can be heard during exhalation.
The humming is also a noise typical of asthma. It is also heard mainly during exhalation and is caused by the increased production of viscous mucus during an asthma attack. In many cases the typical asthma gulling and humming can only be heard with a stethoscope. In a severe attack, however, the sounds can already be heard without a stethoscope.