Don’t Ignore The Early Warning Signs!
Last updated: August 2022
Asthma is not a one-size-fits-all disease. Not all asthma is the same. What sets my asthma off might not bother yours at all. We are all unique--and so is our asthma! Our bodies are amazing and have a tendency to send us early warning signs of an impending asthma attack or flare-up, sometimes even before we start experiencing shortness of breath.1
Early warning signs of an asthma attack
Drop in peak flow
If you monitor your peak flow on a consistent basis, you may very well see your numbers start to trend down in the days before you experience any asthma symptoms. On your asthma action plan, there is a place in each of the green, yellow, and red sections for your peak flow ranges. In the green section, the peak flow range is your personal best down to 80%. The yellow zone is 50%-80% of your personal best and the red zone is less than 50%.2
There should also be instructions on your action plan that detail what to do when your peak flow numbers drop and when you are experiencing symptoms of an impending asthma attack. These instructions should include any additional medications to take and when to call your doctor and/or go to seek medical attention. Peak flow numbers drop when the inflammation begins and the lungs begin to get angry.1,2
Fatigue and/or reduced exercise tolerance
If you are feeling more tired and worn out than usual, it could be a warning sign that your asthma is beginning to flare. Your body is beginning to work overtime to compensate which in turn can make you feel more fatigued.
Reduced exercise tolerance is one that I tend to notice in myself. I am a pretty active person and some times I won’t be able to complete a workout or even play very long with my children. Even though I might not be having super noticeable shortness of breath, I will become fatigued more easily and need to take more breaks or stop my workout/play session early.
This is one of the more common early warning signs of an impending asthma attack. It can happen even days before more obvious asthma symptoms. An itchy chin is sometimes accompanied by an itchy neck. The only way I can describe it is that, for me at least, it feels like an internal itch that you can’t scratch.
Feeling more irritable or moody than normal is another less common early warning sign.
When the body is working overtime to compensate for increasing inflammation in the lungs, it can cause nighttime awakenings. As the inflammation continues to increase you might wake up coughing.3
What early warning signs do you experience?
These are just a few of the more common early warning signs that a person might experience before they really feel their asthma start to flare. It is extremely important to be in tune with your body and listen to it when you experience some of the things I have listed above. Don’t ignore ANY of the warning signs. If you take steps that your doctor includes in your asthma action plan, it can often help curb a serious asthma attack.
What are some of your early warning signs of an asthma attack? Share in the comments below!
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?