Nocturnal asthma history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

History and Symptoms

  • Most people with asthma have attacks separated by symptom-free periods. Some people have long-term shortness of breath with episodes of increased shortness of breath. Either wheezing or acough may be the main symptom.
  • Asthma attacks can last for minutes to days, and can become dangerous if the airflow is severely restricted.


  • Cough with or without sputum (phlegm) production
  • Pulling in of the skin between the ribs when breathing (intercostal retractions)
  • Shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise or activity
  • Wheezing:
    • Comes in episodes with symptom-free periods in between
    • May be worse at night or in early morning
    • May go away on its own
    • Gets better when using drugs that open the airways (bronchodilators)
    • Gets worse when breathing in cold air
    • Gets worse with exercise
    • Gets worse with heartburn (reflux)
    • Usually begins suddenly

Emergency Symptoms

Associated Symptoms

  • Abnormal breathing pattern (breathing out takes more than twice as long as breathing in)
  • Breathing temporarily stops
  • Chest pain
  • Nasal flaring
  • Tightness in the chest


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