Community Views: Strange Symptoms of Asthma

Last updated: September 2022

Living with asthma means regularly struggling to breathe easily. Shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing are common symptoms. Asthma can come with uncommon and unexpected symptoms as well.1

We recently asked the Facebook community, “What are some of the strangest symptoms you experience with asthma?” With over 200 responses, this question resonated with many people!

Itching

Feeling itchy in many places was a symptom community members mentioned experiencing with asthma. It is uncomfortable and alarming to suddenly feel so itchy. Often it is difficult to scratch the itch away. Some places you mentioned feeling itchy were:

  • “Under my chin."
  • “On my chest.”
  • “On the sides of my stomach.”
  • “Around my ribs.”
  • “All over my neck.”
  • “My shoulder blades.”
  • “On my back.”
  • “Under my ear.”
  • “Along my jawline.”
  • “On the front of my neck.”
  • “On my face.”

Coughing

Responses to the prompt highlight the different ways coughing affects the body. You may experience severe, painful coughing. Coughing triggers other symptoms and reactions. Asthma is a full-body experience.

You shared many reactions to coughing:

  • “Coughing so hard the vessels in my eyes have ruptured.”
  • “Coughing over wheezing.”
  • “Coughing until I throw up.”
  • “Being afraid to eat ice cream because of the ‘cold cough.’ ”
  • “The ‘asthma cough’ while/after eating.”
  • “Coughs that turn into sneezes.”
  • “Constant tickle in my throat.”
  • “Coughing so hard I get a nosebleed.”
  • “Coughing so hard I pass out.”
  • “Coughing so hard I’ve broken a rib.”
  • “Feels like there’s dust in my throat.”
  • “Coughing fit from drinking ice water.”
  • “Rattling when I cough or heave.”
  • “Hot flashes triggered by coughing fits.”

Triggering fragrances

You shared the various scents that trigger an asthma attack. Different scents are triggering for different people. Strong, unpredictable odors make it difficult to breathe.

Some of the scents that bother you include:

  • “Going down the detergent aisle in the grocery store.”
  • “Car smell.”
  • “Vanilla.”
  • “Going down the bread aisle, smell of yeast.”
  • “Scented candles.”
  • “Insecticide section of the store.”
  • “Gardening department/fertilizer.”
  • “Bath soap/shampoo.”
  • “Smell of gas.”
  • “Plants.”
  • “Incense at church.”

Weather-related triggers

The weather has a significant impact on the lungs. Changes in air pressure, humid air, wind, and cold affect breathing. You never expected an extremely hot or cold day could take your breath away.

  • “Heat and humidity.”
  • Cold air.”
  • “Respiratory issues before a storm/changes in barometric pressure.”

Other physical symptoms

Asthma symptoms manifest throughout the body. No 2 people experience asthma precisely the same way. Many responses noted the changes in your body before getting an attack. Knowing your warning signs helps you begin your treatment plan.

  • “Upper back pain.”
  • “Bronchospasms ‘creepy crawlies.’ ”
  • “Sweating.”
  • “Tingling sensation in hands and feet.”
  • “Rib cramps.”
  • “Hiccups.”
  • “Losing my voice.”
  • “Headaches.”
  • “Fatigue.”

Emotional symptoms

Along with physical symptoms, you may experience emotional symptoms before or during an asthma attack. You might feel sad or anxious. You may be afraid to laugh and let go because it could trigger an attack.

  • Depression.”
  • “Anxiety right before an attack.”
  • “Panicked feelings and disorientation.”
  • “Scared to laugh.”
  • “I’ve always thought asthma takes the belly laughter out of life.”

Thank you for sharing your strange symptoms of asthma

We appreciate everyone who shared your strange symptoms with us. Asthma has many symptoms beyond those considered “classic.” We hope hearing the voices of so many affirms your experience.

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