An asthma attack (also called an acute asthma episode, flare-up, or exacerbation) is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing.

Although asthma attacks may seem to occur suddenly, they can occur after several days of symptoms getting worse. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe. Episodes can be brief (about an hour) or can last for several days.

Asthma attacks can be serious. But they can usually be treated at home by using quick-relief medicine and an increased dose of controller medicine. For severe asthma attacks, you may need to contact a doctor or seek emergency care.

Current as of: September 9, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology