While most are aware of the textbook signs of asthma such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and a tightness in the chest, there exists a myriad of symptoms often overlooked and misattributed to other health conditions, a misunderstanding that can at times prove dangerous.
For instance, that stubborn cough mistaken for a lingering cold may, in actuality, signal asthma in disguise. Often dismissed as a mere symptom of a typical illness, a persistent cough — resistant to conventional medicines and showing no signs of subsiding on its own — is one of the frequently unrecognized hallmarks of asthma. Lingering unmitigated for several weeks or more, such a cough insists on a medical consultation.
Similarly, persistent sneezing, a runny nose, and irritable, bloodshot eyes may be misinterpreted as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Yet, it is a known fact that asthma is often comorbid with allergic rhinitis. However, be mindful that constant exposure to specific irritants over an extended period could instigate not only hay fever-like symptoms but also occupational asthma, distinguished by worsening symptoms the longer they’re left untreated.
Those with asthma may even find their sleep cycles disrupted, which might be attributed to the fact that asthma symptoms tend to intensify at night. Coughing and wheezing post-midnight are known to result in insomnia, subsequently escalating fatigue levels. In such cases, simply attributing tiredness to long or stressful days may exacerbate the overlooked impacts of asthma.
Additionally, an upset gastrointestinal system could be indicative of asthma, contrary to the assumption of heartburn after a zesty meal. The persistent wheezing and coughing symptomatic of asthma could lead to gastric reflux, creating a vicious cycle of worsening symptoms.
Lastly, experiencing frequent sighs or feelings of breathlessness may be more than an occasional reaction. Excessive sighing can signify asthma as your body grapples to process more air, or adjust its oxygen uptake. It may also reveal a related condition called sighing dyspnea, essentially described as ‘air hunger’ due to the absence of associated wheezing.
It is worth noting that these symptoms may not always present consistently which could lead to doubt their association with asthma. However, agile awareness and monitoring of these symptoms, irrespective of any initial ambiguity, followed by a detailed discussion with your healthcare provider is the prudent course of action.