Guide to Atypical Asthma symptoms

Diseases with symptoms similar to asthma symptoms are explained here which sometimes called Atypical asthma symptoms.

Atypical asthma symptoms

In addition to the symptom “wheezing”, which many consider the main symptom of asthma, there are other, atypical symptoms. For example, a prolonged dry cough may signal an exacerbation of asthma. Compression in the chest and shortness of breath in the morning can also be symptoms of asthma. Moreover, a symptom may be a constant sigh.

Atypical symptoms of bronchial asthma include:

  • Frequent breathing
  • Sighs
  • Fatigue, inability to exercise normally
  • Problems with sleep
  • Anxiety, inability to concentrate
  • A chronic cough without wheezing (variant of asthma followed by cough)

In addition to the above, the symptoms of asthma are not constant and can vary from person to person from time to time. For example, at first, you had symptoms more at night (nocturnal asthma) than in the daytime. Symptoms of asthma can also be provoked by various factors, for example, allergens, dust, smoke, cold air, physical exertion, infectious diseases, medications, and heartburn. Finally, other illnesses such as a heart attack, bronchitis, vocal cord dysfunction can cause symptoms similar to asthma symptoms, but which in fact are not symptoms of asthma. For these reasons, setting the right diagnosis and prescribing an effective asthma treatment is a difficult task for you and your doctor.

Can a cough be the only symptom of asthma?

A chronic cough or a cough that lasts more than three weeks can be caused by the following reasons:

  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Heartburn
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Such drugs – such as ACE inhibitors, which are used to treat high blood pressure
  • Lungs’ cancer

Chronic coughing can be an atypical symptom of asthma. Cough may first appear after a cold or other upper respiratory tract disease. Cough can begin as a slight tickling of the larynx. For some asthmatics, loud laughter or physical exertion can cause a cough. Some people have coughing starts at night, others – at any time of the day for no apparent reason.

Atypical Asthma symptoms
Atypical Asthma symptoms

Cough caused by asthma usually does not respond to treatment with conventional cough suppressants, antibiotics or drops of cough, but only for treatment with asthma medications. Therefore, setting the right diagnosis (by testing lung performance) is very important. The doctor should carefully examine any cough that does not go away on his own for 3-6 weeks.

Night Asthma

Nighttime asthma is a common form of asthma. Over 90% of asthmatics at night begin coughing or wheezing. Symptoms usually occur between 12 and 8 o’clock at night and are common causes of insomnia and lack of sleep. In fact, lack of sleep in asthmatics means insufficient control of the symptoms of asthma. In this case, you need to contact your doctor before he reconsiders the treatment program.

The lung capacity of people with asthma can be reduced to 50% during an attack of nocturnal asthma. The reasons for this are not yet known, but scientists explain it this way:

  • Close contact with allergens at night, for example, with dust mites or animal hair.
  • Changes in the level of hormones such as cortisol, histamine, and epinephrine, at night, which causes reactivity of the respiratory tract.
  • Prolonged contact with asthma triggers in the bedroom or bed.
  • The entry of gastric acid into the esophagus (GERD), due to the adoption of a horizontal position (heartburn and asthma).
  • A belated reaction to the pathogens of asthma, contact with which occurred in the daytime.
  • Subcooling of the respiratory tract, which causes a spasm of the main airways.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Night asphyxia (temporary respiratory arrest).

There is a way to test nighttime asthma by measuring the flow of air coming out of the lungs during exhalation (maximum air outlet) in the evening and in the morning just after they woke up. This testing is carried out with the help of a special device – a pneumotachometer, a small, compact instrument that measures air flows. (An asthma specialist can demonstrate how to properly use this device and take readings.) The difference between evening and morning rates of more than 20% indicates the presence of nocturnal asthma.

Diseases with symptoms similar to asthma symptoms

Symptoms of some diseases can be similar to asthma symptoms, which makes it difficult to establish the correct diagnosis.

  • Cardiac asthma

Cardiac asthma usually occurs in the elderly, who, because of cardiovascular disease, begin coughing and wheezing. When the heart muscle is too weak to effectively expel blood, fluid begins to collect in the lungs and this causes shortness of breath and wheezing.

The lung X-ray can help determine heart failure – the heart is enlarged (usually the first sign of cardiovascular disease) and fluid in the lung tissue. Treatment for cardiovascular diseases involves using diuretics (a diuretic) to get rid of excessive amounts of fluid in the lungs, and medications that help the heart work more efficiently. When cardiovascular diseases are controlled, wheezing stops. Some people may suffer from asthma and heart failure at the same time. Such patients need simultaneous treatment of both diseases to restore a normal lifestyle.

  • Other allergic reactions

Inhalation of spores of mold or particles of fluff and feathers of birds (eg parrots) can cause an allergic reaction in the airways and lungs. For example, when fungi from the genus Aspergillus cause an allergic reaction in the respiratory tract, this is called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. Usually, such people are asthmatics. The treatment takes a long time and includes the expansion of the airways with the help of bronchodilators and the reduction of inflammatory processes with the help of steroids. When pulmonary tissues react with an allergic reaction to inhaled bacteria, fungi or particles of the products of the vital activity of birds, this is called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This condition differs from acute asthma by the absence of wheezing, elevated temperature and X-ray results, which shows signs of pneumonia.

Stress Asthma

Exercise is a common cause of asthma and can cause symptoms such as a contraction in the chest, shortness of breath and cough in 80% -90% of asthmatics. Symptoms of asthma usually manifest 10 minutes after the start of exercise or 5-10 minutes after their completion, although some symptoms can manifest only after 4-8 hours after physical exertion. Asthma stress affects people at any age but is more common in children with childhood asthma and in adolescents. All athletes, from amateurs to professional and Olympic champions, may suffer from stress asthma.

In most cases, stress asthma is treated and prevented, which allows children and adults to lead a normal physically active lifestyle. Regular exercise is useful for the heart and cardiovascular system, muscle tissue (including pulmonary muscles) and psychological health. However, regular exercise is not a method of treating asthma.

Asthma stress is diagnosed by monitoring symptoms induced by physical exertion. When the diagnosis is unclear, additional tests are carried out in the doctor’s office: the removal of lung performance during rest and after physical exertion.


Diseases that exacerbate asthma symptoms

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERB is a common disease caused by regurgitation (reflux) or reverse gastric acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Returning to the esophagus, gastric acid can get into the lungs. GERB is usually, but not always associated with burning under the rib cage, which is called heartburn, which most often happens after a meal or when a person takes a horizontal position. In some patients, the symptom of gastric acid reflux is not heartburn. Instead, they experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, dysphonia (hoarseness), or sore throat.

The presence of gastric acid in the esophagus, or acid penetration into the lungs (aspiration) can cause the compression of the bronchus (bronchospasm), which causes wheezing and coughing, which do not respond to medications. Bronchospasm, caused by reflux of stomach acid, usually occurs at night, as a result of the horizontal position of the body. It is noteworthy that GERB very often affects asthmatics. Some doctors believe that asthma alone or ways of treating asthma in some way increase the predisposition to reflux. For example, theophylline, an oral asthma medicine (bronchodilator), which is often used in the treatment of asthma, can provoke reflux by relaxing certain muscles of the esophagus that are normally compressed and prevent regurgitation of stomach acid.

In patients with nocturnal or difficult-to-control asthma, reflux treatment can alleviate the symptoms of coughing and wheezing. The treatment of GERD also includes raising the head of the bed, supporting normal weight, refraining from spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes. Proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Protonix, Aciphex, Prevacid, and Nexium are a potential inhibitor of gastric acid production in the stomach and an effective remedy in the fight against asthma caused by reflux. Very rarely, only in very severe cases, when GERB does not respond to traditional methods of treatment, surgical methods are used to prevent reflux.

  • Allergic rhinitis and asthma

Allergic rhinitis and asthma
Allergic rhinitis and asthma

There is an obvious relationship between allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. The question that may arise – allergic rhinitis or asthma – is not so easy to answer. Allergic rhinitis is considered a risk factor in the development of asthma: up to 78% of asthmatics suffer from allergic rhinitis.

In many patients, the development of asthma and nasal symptoms (sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, intranasal pruritus) occurs approximately at the same time. In others, asthma begins to develop after or until the appearance of allergic rhinitis. We know for sure that almost all asthmatics suffer from allergic rhinitis. Allergic asthma is one of the most common forms of asthma. In addition, one-third of people suffering from allergic rhinitis develop asthma. Patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma may suffer from more severe asthma attacks and may require stronger medicationsto prevent asthma symptoms. Sometimes allergy tests are performed to separate asthma triggers and allergies and immunotherapy is used to reduce the severity of asthma symptoms. In addition, the presence of asthma is easily determined using a lung function test.

Here are the possible reasons why allergic rhinitis and asthma are so related:

  • Nasal and bronchial membranes consist of almost the same type of tissue.
  • The nerves of the upper (nasal cavity) and lower respiratory tract (bronchus) are connected. Both the upper and lower respiratory tract come into contact with the environment during breathing. When allergens enter the nasal cavity, irritation of the nerve endings of the cavity occurs. This irritation causes reflex neural impulses that are sent to both the nasal cavity and the lower respiratory tract, which leads to spasm of the bronchi.
  • If the nose is laid, usually a person begins to breathe with his mouth. With this breath, the inhaled air does not pass through the nasal cavity. As a result, air is not filtered from allergens and irritating particles, it is not heated or humidified. This substandard air most often causes a bronchial hypersensitivity and leads to an exacerbation of asthma symptoms.
  •  Mucus from the nasal cavity can flow behind the back wall of the nose into the bronchial tubes, especially during sleep. This mucus increases the inflammation of the bronchi and causes asthma attacks at night.

Sinusitis and asthma

Doctors noticed a connection between asthma and sinusitis. In fact, 15% of patients suffering from sinusitis also suffer from asthma (as opposed to 5% of healthy populations). And the most striking thing is that 75% of asthmatics have sinusitis. In addition, asthmatics report a worsening of asthma symptoms when sinusitis becomes aggravated. Accordingly, treat sinusitis, to be treated and asthma.

The causes of the relationship between asthma and sinusitis are similar to the causes of the relationship between asthma and allergic rhinitis.

  • Mucus, which carries infections from the sinuses of the nose, can flow into the bronchial tubes, thereby causing bronchitis (sinobronchitis). Inflammatory processes provoked by mucus may exacerbate asthma symptoms.
  • The most obvious proof is the idea of reflex neural impulses along the entire length of the nose, sinuses and respiratory tracts. Sinusitis can cause a “sinobronchial reflex” and, accordingly, worsen the course of asthma.

A deeper study of these two diseases will allow us to find a better method of monitoring and, possibly, even new methods of treatment.

Guide to Atypical Asthma symptoms
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