Asthma Symptoms and Complications

What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

What is your biggest asthma problem?

This is a question that I have been asking for the members of our community to respond to. I have summed up the most common responses with links to articles on the site that explore the individual issues in more detail.


By far readers of the asthma site responded that the classic symptoms of asthma are their biggest asthma problem. Readers report that their biggest problems come from:

It seems that often one of the symptoms predominated, but that many patients complained of at least 2 symptoms. While these symptoms are signs of poor asthma control, it was difficult from responses to tell what the most likely reasons were.

Nocturnal asthma symptoms were very common as well as symptoms related to exercise.

Trigger Identification And Management

Another common theme is trigger identification as a problem. The theme is summed up by a reader who said:

"I recently moved and it seems every time I get home my asthma starts to kick in and its been around 4 months now of the worst asthma I have ever had. I narrowed it down to where I’m living at now because when I’m away my breathing gets better so I’m hoping that maybe it's just a plant or something growing outside giving me the reaction.”

Identifying asthma triggers can be difficult. It is important that you develop an asthma action plan that includes trigger identification. Sometimes this may require you to be an astute sleuth monitoring peak flows and symptoms as well as keeping an asthma diary. Trigger identification can be really difficult, especially in the beginning.

In addition to identifying triggers, managing known triggers was another common issue. I could also sense the frustration in readers– they know what the trigger is but are not able to adequately address it.

For example, many patients reported frustrations in how to manage the common cold and worsening asthma symptoms. Others expressed concern in dealing with pollen when they live in the area of the country with lots of spring pollen. For any known trigger, talk with your doctor and make avoiding the trigger and the steps you need to take if you are going to have an exposure part of your asthma action plan.

Cost of Asthma

The cost of asthma treatment was also commonly cited as an asthma problem. Not only were the direct costs of drugs impacting care, but the loss of time away from work was also mentioned as a significant issue.

Rescue inhalers can commonly cost more than $50 since the transition from CFC to HFA inhalers. Due to costs patients may seek over the counter treatments that are not optimal for asthma care.

Many companies offer prescription assistance for patients that are not able to afford medication. Without medication, you will experience problems trying to achieve asthma control.

In order to get good control, you need to take your medication as prescribed. Taking medication and following your asthma action plan will be the best way to avoid missing work.

Not Typical Asthma

Another common theme was when asthma is not typical or common. For example, one patient described experiences where her asthma was under-recognized by her health care team:

"My biggest asthma problem is that wheezing is not my primary symptom. I will go to my doctor or I've even gone to the ER with chest tightness, SOB, cough, use of accessory muscles to breath, can't finish a sentence, etc. But because my lungs are in such spasm, they can't readily hear the wheezing until I receive a duoneb treatment. I've been placed in the waiting room, refused treatment and told I was having a panic attack.”

Many times incidents like the one described above are due to poor doctor-patient communication.

Other times patients describe something that sounds atypical but is more likely just not noticed.

"I tend to be asthmatic only when I get sick, yet once sick and asthmatic I cannot get well without Prednisone.”

Asthma never goes away. It may be that an acute illness triggers the asthma symptoms, but the inflammation is likely always there. Many times when I question patients that make statements like the one above, other symptoms of poor control such as wheezing, chest tightness, cough and shortness of breath are present. Sometimes the patient does not readily admit to them and sometimes it may be how I was asking the question.

What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help. You are probably not the only one with the problem. Take a few minutes describing your problem so we can develop a solution together.

Learn More About Your Asthma

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