If you or someone you care for has asthma, you know that the disease can fluctuate in severity and the types of symptoms that it produces over time. Asthma can occur in the very small bronchial tubes, which may cause you to have shortness of breath and a sensation of tightness in the chest or a sensation that you can’t get enough air in. If asthma involves the intermediate size bronchial tubes then you get a lot of cough and wheeze. If the main problem is in the upper part of the airway (the trachea) then you get mainly a cough without necessarily wheezing or chest tightness. Most people have a combination of all of the above symptoms during an asthma attack.
Asthma can start at any time of life and its overall course can be very unpredictable. As mentioned above, a severe viral infection or pneumonia can be the initial event that starts a more chronic form of asthma. Another common initiating event in more chronic asthma is a change in the environment with an increase in the allergen levels. This is seen if a person gets a cat to which s/he is allergic or starts a job where the work environment contains high levels of allergen.