Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, chest tightening, scratchy throat, awakening at night with coughing or shortness of breath, and inability to exercise due to shortness of breath.
These symptoms can be caused by allergen triggers such as pollens, trees, grass or mold, dust mites, furry or feathered animals, cockroaches, medications or food, or irritant triggers like tobacco or wood smoke, viruses, strong odors or perfumes, cold weather, exercise, emotions or heartburn.
Diagnosis is based on these symptoms, a physical examination, lung function testing, and family history.
Going to a doctor for a diagnosis is imperative. Several conditions mimic asthma, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart disease, upper airway obstruction, pulmonary embolism, and lung cancer, so it is important to have a thorough evaluation. It is also very important for the patient with asthma to monitor their lung function daily with a peak flow meter.