Understanding the Alarm Bells: Recognising the Warning Signs of Asthma in Adults and Children

08 May 2024

The difference between a typical cough and an unannounced asthma attack can be subtle yet crucial. Asthma is a respiratory condition characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. With over 300 million people affected worldwide, in India, 6% of children and 2% of adults live with asthma symptoms. Recognising its early warning signs can prompt timely intervention, thereby significantly altering the course of the disease. Asthma is not just a nuisance; it’s a potential threat that demands immediate attention and understanding.

Asthma shows no age bias. It can sneak up on an adult in the middle of a busy day or stir a child from sleep. Its onset might be gradual or sudden, with symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe breathlessness. However, there is no need to be intimidated. Armed with proper knowledge, you can navigate this medical complexity with relative ease.

In this blog post, we reflect on the warning signs of asthma in both adults and children. We will look into common symptoms, signs of severe asthma attacks, the unique way asthma presents in children, how to diagnose and manage the condition, and finally, ways to identify the risk factors. By understanding these factors, you stand better equipped to handle any asthma-related situations, whether for yourself or a loved one. So, let’s start this journey together towards improved health and greater peace of mind.

Deciphering Asthma’s SOS Signals in Adults and Children

The silent call of asthma is often drowned out amidst our daily cacophony. However, understanding these subtle distress signals can make the difference between prompt intervention and delayed treatment. But what are these signs? Let’s delve into this question.

Asthma, a deceptive ailment, frequently disguises itself as a common health annoyance. The following symptoms are common signs of asthma to look out for:

  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest tightness
  • Chronic cough

If you frequently encounter these signs of asthma, they worsen during the night or early morning, or they appear to be prompted by physical activity or allergic reactions, it’s advisable to contemplate the possibility of having asthma.

Understanding a Breathing Crisis: Signs of Severe Asthma Attack

While everyday symptoms are veiled, an extreme asthma attack is alarmingly overt. It is characterised by:

  • Severe and constant wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Extreme breathlessness
  • Rapid breathing, along with drowsiness and confusion.
  • Blue-tinged lips or fingers
  • Fainting spells

If you notice these signals, don’t ignore them; they are urgent pleas for medical help.

Useful tip: Breathing exercises might provide temporary relief from asthmatic attacks before help arrives.

The Understated Alarm Bells: Asthma in Children

Children using inhaler due to asthma symptoms

Children, too, can be caught in asthma’s insidious grasp. The symptoms could be similar to those of adults: chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Yet children might face severe breathing difficulties, trouble speaking due to the lack of breath, or their lips might turn an alarming shade of blue. A sudden worsening of symptoms should not be dismissed as child’s play but as a clarion call for immediate medical attention.

Unraveling the Mystery: Diagnosis, Management, and Risk Factors

Diagnosis isn’t rocket science; it usually involves a physical examination, understanding your medical history, and conducting lung function tests. Managing asthma is about being a step ahead of it. It means recognising triggers, having an actionable asthma plan at hand, and knowing when to seek medical help.

Some unseen threads might pull you towards the risk of developing asthma. Exposure to smoke, a family history of asthma, your ethnicity, or other diseases like obesity and allergies could subtly tie you to this ailment. Being aware of these factors could prompt an earlier diagnosis and better preparation.

Summing it Up

In drawing the curtains on our conversation about the warning signs of asthma in adults and children, let’s not forget that an informed understanding of these symptoms is our first line of defence. Recognising the signs of asthma, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, chronic coughing, or nocturnal symptoms, can lead us swiftly towards necessary medical attention.

Being well-informed and aware of our health conditions is vital for both ourselves and those around us. Remember, help is always around the corner at tatvacare.in. We are here to assist you in better understanding your health needs and guide you through your wellness journey. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for professional advice tailored specifically to you. Let’s together turn knowledge into action for a healthier tomorrow.


Q. Can symptoms of asthma differ between adults and children?

A: Yes, indeed, symptoms of asthma can present differently in adults and children. While both may experience shortness of breath, wheezing, or a feeling of tightness in the chest, children might also show signs like frequent respiratory infections and unusual fatigue.

Q. Can sudden weather changes trigger asthma?

A: Absolutely, sudden weather changes can act as a trigger for asthma. Both cold and hot air or humid conditions may cause the airways to constrict, leading to an asthma attack. It’s advisable for asthma patients to stay mindful of weather predictions and make necessary adjustments.

Q. How does exercise affect someone with asthma?

A: Contrary to what some might believe, exercise does not cause asthma. However, physical stress can trigger symptoms in people with exercise-induced asthma. But don’t let this discourage you; with proper medication and precautionary measures, one can safely continue an active lifestyle.

Q. Can someone develop asthma later in life?

A: Yes, it’s possible to develop adult-onset asthma. Though it is commonly diagnosed in childhood, anyone can experience the symptoms at any age. Factors like exposure to certain chemicals or dust can play a part in developing adult-onset asthma.

Q. Are there any specific tests to diagnose asthma?

A: Yes, doctors usually perform a series of tests to diagnose asthma. One such test, spirometry, measures how much air you can breathe out after a deep breath. The peak flow tests measure how hard you can breathe out. It helps doctors assess the condition of your airways.

About the Author

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Devina Aswal

Recent Blog



Let’s Connect

Quick contact