What are the indications that asthma is becoming worse?

It is important to note that asthma is considered as a chronic condition that involves the inflammation in the airways of the lungs. The condition manifests with frequent attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath and cough. Smoke, allergies, exercise, common cold and upper airway infections are some of the usual triggers of asthma attacks. There are medications available to manage the acute symptoms of asthma and to prevent exacerbations. Oftentimes, medications do not work initially thus it is vital to recognize the symptoms of a worsening asthma. By enrolling in a course on first aid course today, you can learn to determine these symptoms.

Respiratory distress

In most cases, individuals who have a worsening asthma can experience respiratory distress along with cough and rapid breathing. Once the symptoms worsen, the individual will have obvious retractions such as rapid breathing and tugging in of the abdominal and chest muscles in an attempt to bring in more oxygen to the body. You can easily recognize the retractions by observing the chest and assessing if the ribs poke out when breathing. In some individuals, especially children, they have paradoxical breathing as a sign of worsening asthma. Take note that paradoxical breathing occurs when the chest wall moves in during inhalation and out during exhalation instead of the other way around.


In most cases, individuals who have a worsening asthma can experience respiratory distress along with cough and rapid breathing.

Diminished breath sounds

A serious indication of worsening asthma is a reduction in the respiratory sounds. In this condition, chronic inflammation will lead to the constriction of the airways. The individual will continue to move air via these constricted airways, producing the high-pitched noise or wheezing. Once asthma worsens, the constriction becomes severe and there is not enough movement of air in the chest to cause wheezing. Remember that this can be misinterpreted as an improvement in the respiratory status when it is in fact an indication of the deterioration of the condition.

Altered mental status

Another indication of worsening asthma is when the individual starts to show changes in the mental status. These include irritability, confusion, drowsiness, agitation and stupor. As the condition worsens, the individual can show altered perception and even hallucinations. In most cases, the individual eventually loses consciousness. The diminished delivery of oxygen to the brain is the main issue why changes in the mental status occur.


Cyanosis is the bluish color of the skin. This condition is caused by a reduction in the delivery of oxygen to the body from the heart. Among individuals who have worsening asthma, the airway swelling and inflammation as well as constriction will disrupt with the delivery of oxygen to different parts of the body. It simply means that the blood pumped by the heart circulates with reduced oxygen than normal. The low level of oxygen in the blood turns the tissues blue in color especially in the skin that surrounds the mouth and the fingertips.


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