Asthma is a very common condition, affecting 5 million people in the UK. However, despite being so prevalent, some people with the condition may not necessarily realise they have it.

As with other conditions, recognising symptoms when they occur and getting a doctor’s advice are the first steps towards getting asthma under control.

If you suspect that you could have asthma (whether it’s because you experience symptoms intermittently, or have a close relative who lives with the condition) we’ve developed a short quiz to help you get a clearer idea of whether you should approach your doctor for further advice.

This quiz should in no way be considered as a replacement for medical consultation with a healthcare professional.

However, if you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to one or more of the below, we recommend that you speak to your GP so that they can provide guidance on what you should do next.

Question 1: Do you make a wheezing sound when you breathe out?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • Asthma is caused by an irritation of the airways, medically known as the bronchi.
  • When they become inflamed, the walls of the bronchi swell and tighten, causing them to narrow.
  • They may become coated with mucus, obstructing them further.
  • This causes a whistling sound when trying to expel the used air.

Question 2: Do you have a cough that won’t seem to go away?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • Coughing is an involuntary reflex action to clear the airways, and may be worse because of the excess mucus production engendered by asthma.
  • For someone who has asthma, their coughing might be particularly bad at night as they are lying down and their airways become narrower during sleep.
  • If you have a cough that lasts for longer than a couple of weeks or keeps returning over a period of time, this might be a symptom of asthma.

Question 3: Do you sometimes feel short of breath?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • When asthmatic airways constrict, it can become difficult to get enough air into the lungs.
  • In severe cases someone might find it difficult to breathe properly.
  • In moderate cases someone might have feelings of fatigue and find it difficult to exercise or carry out simple physical tasks.

Question 4: Do you sometimes feel as though something is tightening around your chest?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • The narrowed airways caused by asthma make it hard to fill the lungs with air properly, and when the lungs aren’t able to fully inflate, it can feel as though there is something squeezing or tightening around the chest.

Question 5: Do you keep getting chest infections?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • People with asthma have sensitive airways so are at a higher risk of developing chest infections.
  • Often following a cold or a bout of the flu, a chest infection can considerably worsen asthma symptoms.
  • If you have a chest infection which isn’t clearing up, or you keep getting them again and again, consult your doctor, as this may be an indication that you have asthma.

Question 6: Do your symptoms get worse when you go out in the garden or are near pets?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • A worsening of asthma symptoms is known as an asthma exacerbation, or more commonly, as an ‘asthma attack’. These are induced by ‘triggers’; stimulus that cause increased severity of symptoms.
  • Triggers are often something airborne that inflame the bronchi when they come into contact with them.
  • Common triggers include allergens such as pollen, pet hair, or dust, but an asthma attack can also be triggered by non-allergic reactions, such as to cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, certain foods or medicines, or an abrupt change in the weather.
  • An attack can even be brought on by stress; a number of changes in the body take place when we’re under pressure, which can lead to increased chest tightness and heavy breathing.
  • The body also releases chemicals in periods of stress, such as leukotrienes and histamines, which can cause inflammation of the airways.

Question 7: Do your symptoms feel worse after you exercise?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • When we exercise, we all breathe more quickly and deeper than normal. In asthmatics, a reaction can be triggered when breathing in cold or dry air, leading to a narrowing of the airways.
  • If you’re exercising outside, you are additionally more susceptible to breathing in other irritants, such as pollen, exhaust fumes or dust.

Question 8: Are your symptoms worse when you are at work?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • Someone who works in an environment where they are exposed to dust, fumes, certain chemicals or animals, and finds their symptoms flare up at work, may have what is known as occupational asthma, which affects around one in ten people who first develop asthma in adulthood.
  • Bakers, vets, nurses, hairdressers, engineers and woodworkers are just some of the jobs that can lead to occupational asthma.

Question 9: Does anyone in your family have asthma?

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • You’re more likely to develop asthma if one or both of your parents have had the condition.
  • You may also be more prone to asthma if you have a family history of other allergy related illnesses, such as hay fever or eczema.

 

 

You answered yes to question(s) out of .

Further information

Again, this quiz is not in any way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation.

But as mentioned above, if you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, or think you may have asthma for any other reason, it may be a good idea to see your doctor. They will be able to give you appropriate advice and support.

More information on asthma is available via the links at the bottom of our asthma page.

You can also find helpful info on the Asthma UK site.