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Asthma

Explaining Sypmtoms of Asthma

10/08/2007

Question:

I am 38 years old and was diagnosed with asthma as an adult. Among my most frequent symptoms are 1.Pain in the left side of my chest(almost directly under the left breast) 2. Itching in by back between the shoulder blades when I cough. The cough is usually non-productive. I have never really been given a satisfactory/conclusive explanation for these problems. I would be grateful for any help or advice that you can offer.

Answer:

1.  Pain is not a symptom of asthma.  There are many causes of pain.  Pain in the chest can be caused by problems with the heart, stomach, bones, cartilage, muscles or nerves.  To determine the cause of the pain it is important to obtain detailed information.  Information about the intensity of the pain; location; radiation; things that make it worse or better; how long the pain has been present; and how long it lasts can help your provider in making a diagnosis.

2. Cough can be a sign your asthma is not fully controlled.  Other common causes of cough include post nasal drip and acid reflux.  It is important to talk to your provider about your cough and what might be causing it. 

3.  Itching of the back is an unusual symptom.  I have reviewed the side effect profile of common asthma medicines and do not see itching as a side effect.  It is possible the repeated coughing is causing muscle tightness in the back which in turn is causing sensation in the skin such as itching.

I hope this will be helpful to you.

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Response by:

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University