Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Asthma symptoms include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.

Asthma symptoms include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.
beginning of content

Asthma symptoms

If you have asthma, you may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • feeling breathless (you may gasp for breath)
  • a tight chest, like a band tightening around it
  • wheezing, a whistling sound when you breathe
  • coughing, particularly at night and early morning
  • attacks triggered by exercise, exposure to allergens (allergy triggering substances such as dust or animal hair) and other triggers.

When asthma symptoms get significantly worse, this is known as an "asthma attack". A severe asthma attack usually develops slowly, taking 6 to 48 hours to become serious. However, for some people, asthma symptoms can get worse quickly.

Having a written asthma self-management plan, developed with your doctor, can help you to know how to best manage your asthma. It can also help you to know what to do in an asthma attack.

In a severe asthma attack, other things may happen such as:

  • The reliever inhaler, which is usually blue, does not help symptoms at all.
  • The symptoms of wheezing, coughing, tight chest are severe and constant.
  • You are too breathless to speak.
  • Your pulse is racing.
  • You feel agitated or restless.
  • Your lips or fingernails look blue.

Call triple zero (000) to seek immediate help if you or someone else has severe symptoms of asthma.

If you or someone you know has asthma, it is important to have an asthma action plan and to understand emergency asthma first aid. You can find out more details on the National Asthma Council website.

Last reviewed: July 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 1577 results

Asthma symptoms in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing and breathing difficulty, but asthma symptoms can also be vague. Read what to look for and when to see a doctor.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Serevent Inhaler and Accuhaler | myVMC

Serevent Inhaler and Accuhaler is an asthma medicine, used to treat nocturnal and exercised-induced asthma symptoms, in people using corticosteroids.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Tilade CFC-Free | myVMC

Tilade CFC-Free is an asthma medicine used for maintenance treatment and to prevent asthma symptoms during exercise. It contains nedocromil sodium

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Asthma - Daily Asthma Symptoms Diary | The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Thunderstorm Asthma - Factsheet

Thunderstorm asthma is a potent mix of pollen and weather conditions that can trigger severe asthma symptoms

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Thunderstorm asthma information for patients and carers - National Asthma Council Australia

Thunderstorm asthma is a potent mix of pollen and weather conditions that can trigger severe asthma symptoms.

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Bushfires and asthma - National Asthma Council Australia

For people with asthma living in high risk bushfire zones, the bushfire season is time to be on high alert for asthma symptoms. Smoke and increased air pollution from fires can trigger asthma symptoms, as can high emotions such as stress and anxiety.

Read more on National Asthma Council Australia website

Asthma medications and how to use inhalers (puffers) video | myVMC

Asthma medications or asthma inhalers include preventers of asthma symptoms and relievers of asthma attacks. The correct inhaler technique must be used.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Asthma Emergency - An Asthma Australia site

Any person with asthma can have a flare-up or worsening of asthma symptoms at any time. A sudden or severe flare-up is often called an asthma attack.

Read more on Asthma Australia website

Asthma action plans- video

Asthma action plans detail what to do in an asthma attack and when to use medications including preventers and relievers to control asthma symptoms.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback