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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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Asthma Symptoms

Contact the Florida Asthma Program

Most people with asthma go for periods of time without any symptoms, then have a sudden asthma flare or episode. Some people have chronic shortness of breath that gets worse during a flare. Asthma flares can last minutes to days and can become dangerous if airflow to the lungs becomes severely restricted. Signs and symptoms of asthma vary from person to person. They may also vary for a person depending on which trigger they have been exposed to.

Primary symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Nighttime coughing (dry or with sputum)

image of an asthma action plan sample.

Emergency care should be sought if any of the following are experienced:

  • Extreme difficulty breathing or stopping breathing
  • Bluish color to the lips, fingernails, and face, called cyanosis
  • Struggling to talk or stay awake
  • Chest retractions (having to strain your chest muscles to breathe)
  • In infants, head bobbing