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8 Unusual Asthma Symptoms You Might Not Recognize

Woman with asthma drinking water after a workout, trying to manage her symptoms.
Getty Images / Olena Mykhaylova

Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing are some of the most common symptoms of asthma, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones. In this article Kerri Mackay discusses the more unusual symptoms that can come with asthma.

Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing are some of the most common symptoms of asthma, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones.

There are several other “weird” asthma symptoms that you may experience during an asthma flare-up, or that might signal an impending flare-up. Some are more common and easier to associate with asthma, while others just seem bizarre.

Here’s a rundown of these strange symptoms that you may not recognize.

1. Anxiousness

Feelings of anxiousness may precipitate asthma symptoms, or asthma may cause feelings of anxiety. This can make it difficult to differentiate which is the core problem. Proper management of both anxiety and asthma can help to avoid impacting the opposing condition.

2. Difficulty with exercise

If you have poorly controlled asthma or exercise-induced asthma, exercise may become difficult. You might find that you can’t exercise at the same intensity as you used to, and this can signal an asthma flare-up.

3. Fatigue, tiredness, or difficulty sleeping

Having difficulty breathing may not only make you consume more energy and become more “worn out,” it can also cause difficulty sleeping or cause you to wake up earlier than intended in the morning. Personally, when I wake up from asthma symptoms, I find it’s not always immediately obvious that my breathing is why I am awake!

4. Yawning or excessive inhalation

Yawning or excessive inhalation may occur in response to feelings of stress, sadness, or anxiety. But recent research also confirmed involuntary yawning also occurs to re-inflate the alveoli, or tiny air sacs, in your lungs — possibly as a response to low carbon dioxide levels in the blood. There’s not a ton of hard evidence linking frequent yawning with asthma, but many people living with asthma report that increased yawning is often a sign that their asthma is acting up.

5. Itchy chin

In the absence of a clear allergic reaction, such as a rash or hives, having an itchy chin may seem just like another itch. For some people, though, this may signify they’re headed toward an asthma attack. There’s not much evidence as to why this happens, but people living with asthma self-report this symptom and it’s often part of a respiratory care center’s symptom checklist.

This symptom seems to be more common in kids (or it may just be more commonly noticed due to children having more difficulty communicating symptoms), but it can happen to anyone.

6. Throat clearing

Like a sore throat, throat clearing may be associated with postnasal drip. And while it seems unrelated to asthma, this can certainly exacerbate your symptoms. One small survey also found that frequent throat clearing could be an indicator of asthma in young children.

7. Thirst

If you’re taking antihistamines, this may seem to correlate with your medication. But increased thirst that seems unexplained may be a clue that an asthma flare is about to occur.

8. Hoarseness or losing your voice

Frequently losing your voice or experiencing hoarseness can be attributed to asthma symptoms. While coughing can certainly affect your voice, it’s also probable that voice symptoms are linked to use of inhaled medications.

The takeaway

While I’ve noticed changes in my voice over the nine-and-a-half years I’ve been on inhaled medications (and had a chronic cough), I haven’t really noticed many of these odd symptoms of asthma. It’s important to be familiar with the most common asthma symptoms, but it’s also helpful to be aware of some of the stranger symptoms that may be associated with asthma that you wouldn’t expect to be related.

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for managing physical or mental disabilities. Please consult a professional who can apply best practices and appropriate resources to your situation.

Article resources

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 

NPS-ALL-NP-00820 FEB 2023

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