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Think about what happens if you turn on a spigot and there's a sharp bend in the hose, what happens? The water can't get out of the hose, and stays bottled up at the point of obstruction. It's the same thing that happens when you have decreased airflow through your ventilation-you hear a whistling sound and the whistle intensifies when the airflow has trouble making it through the ventilation. That's asthma.
In patients with asthma, the trouble isn't with getting air into the lungs; it's with getting air out, and it feels like a vice is squeezing the bronchus. Once the bend in the hose is straightened, then the water is released easily. Likewise, during an asthma attack, once the obstruction is cleared-most often, through medication-air is released and you can breathe smoothly.
Many people with asthma describe attacks as feeling as though they are breathing through a straw. People who are having an asthma attack:
- wheeze (high-pitched breathing sounds or high-pitched dry cough)
- cough when they try to breathe
- breath fast
- use their neck and belly muscles to breathe
- feel as though they cannot catch their breath
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.