Is Chest Tightness An Asthma Symptom Or Something Else?

How Chest Tightness Can Be Related to Asthma

Chest Tightness with Asthma
Chest Tightness with Asthma.

Chest tightness frequently occurs in asthma patients, either alone or with the other classic asthma symptoms such as:

As your airways become more inflamed, filled with mucus, and the smooth muscles in your airways constrict, chest tightness may be experienced as the inability or perception of not being able to move air in and out of your lungs. This feeling may also increase your anxiety and further worsen the sense of not being able to move air through your lungs.

The inflammation, mucus, and muscle tightness may occur after exposure to a trigger, a specific irritant in occupational asthma, or even as a result of exercise in the case of exercise-induced asthma.

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What It Means

Like the other classic symptoms of asthma, chest tightness should not be ignored, especially if you do not have a previous history of asthma. Ignoring a symptom like chest tightness may lead to an asthma attack if you do not follow your asthma care plan appropriately.

Make sure you discuss this symptom with your doctor because a number of other diseases such as heart disease, COPD, and pulmonary embolism can also be associated with chest tightness. If you are unsure of what your symptoms may mean or just want more information, consider using a symptom checker to see what may be causing your symptoms.

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When Should I Call a Doctor?

You need to contact a physician if you experience chest tightness and have not previously been diagnosed with asthma. Keeping track of your symptoms may help your doctor decide what to do next. In keeping a symptom diary, you can record the answers to the following questions:

  • How often do you get the chest tightness?
  • What are you doing when the chest tightness occurs?
  • What makes the chest tightness go away?
  • Do other classic asthma symptoms occur with the chest tightness?
  • What makes the chest tightness get better?
  • What does the chest tightness exactly feels like?

Additionally, your doctor may order a whole series of tests. Some will be to help with a diagnosis of asthma and some will be to make sure you do not have one of the previously mentioned serious causes of shortness of breath. This tests may include:

If you already have a diagnosis of asthma, chest tightness may indicate poor control or worsening symptoms that could escalate into an asthma attack if you do not follow your asthma action plan. Make sure you understand what to do when you experience symptoms and ask your doctor specific questions if you do not understand.

Consider going to an emergency room if:

  • If you are 40 years of age or older and you have any risk factors for heart disease.
  • If you have associated chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or fainting with your chest tightness.
  • Your chest tightness is associated with physical activity or progressively worsens.
  • You have a feeling of impending doom or that something is horribly wrong.

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What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help. ? You are probably not the only one with the problem. Take a few minutes describing your problem so we can develop a solution together.

Need Even More Support?

Want to ask questions or get advice from other patients or parents of asthmatics? Our private Facebook group to interact with others with asthma or parents of asthmatics. Joining our community will allow you to ask questions, interact with other parents of or members with asthma, get helpful information and realize that you are not alone in dealing with asthma.


Allergy/Asthma Information Association. Accessed January 16, 2016. A Patient's Guide to Asthma Care.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: January 16, 2016. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

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