Many changes take place in the lungs during an asthma episode. If these changes have not been controlled by asthma medicines, the body reacts by showing physical symptoms. These symptoms tell you that “asthma is out of control”. The goal of asthma care is to keep the asthma under control and to keep these symptoms from developing. If you have the following symptoms, it means the asthma episode is bad, and you should get immediate care from your doctor.
Wheezing or Coughing
The sound of air passing through tightened airways sounds like a whistle or wheeze. This is one of the most common symptoms of asthma. You can hear this sound by listening to the chest with a stethoscope. You may be able to hear it without this tool. Not all people with asthma wheeze. Others may have a nagging cough that disturbs other people and the child’s normal day.
Sucking in of the Chest (Retractions)
As you try to take in air into the tightened airways, the tissue of the chest wall may be sucked in also. You may notice this in the area above the collarbone or between or below the ribs.
Prolonged Breathing Out
Normally it takes the same time to get the air into the lungs as it does to blow it out. During an asthma episode the air coming out of the lungs is blocked more than the air coming into the lungs. Because of this, breathing out may take longer than breathing in. Breathing out may take twice as long as breathing in when asthma episodes occur.
This is one of the earlier signs of asthma. Know your breathing rate during daily activities. Then compare it with rates during an asthma episode. If you have problems counting the breathing, look at your belly. Count its rise and fall with each breath.
As you try to get air into the tightened lungs, the soft tissue of the nose may flare with each breath in.
Unable to Finish a Word or Sentence
During an asthma episode it is hard to breathe. This also makes it hard to talk. Your sentences or words may be choppy and hard to understand. The care giver should ask “yes” or “no” questions to make communicating easier.
Blue-Gray Lips and Nail Beds
The airways in the lungs tighten and make it hard to get the air in and out of the lungs. This lowers the amount of oxygen available to the body. When the oxygen level is low, the lips and nail beds turn a gray-blue color.
Peak Flow in the Red Zone
When the peak flow reading falls below 50% of normal, you’re in the red zone. This occurs along with some or all of the above asthma symptoms. This drop says asthma is bad and the doctor should be called according to the care plan.