Find a Doctor Find a Doctor
Time to see a specialist? Time to see a specialist?
We found [COUNT] Specialists
who treat [INTEREST]
We found [COUNT] Specialists
who treat [INTEREST]
[TELEHEALTH] offer Telehealth options.
Controlling Severe Asthma

This content is created by Healthgrades and brought to you by an advertising sponsor. More

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the Healthgrades advertising policy.

6 Signs of Uncontrolled Asthma

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By John Fuller on November 21, 2022

Many asthma patients are able to successfully control their symptoms, which generally include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. When symptoms go uncontrolled, however, the quality of life for asthma patients can decrease dramatically and may lead to a medical emergency.

If you start experiencing any of the following signs, talk to your doctor about adjusting your asthma treatment.

  • caucasian woman tired after exercising with baby in stroller in the background
    1. Having Symptoms More Than Twice a Week
    The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says that asthma is well controlled if asthma symptoms occur twice a week or less. If you’re experiencing wheezing and other asthma symptoms more than twice a week, your asthma symptoms are probably poorly controlled and you should make an appointment with your doctor.
  • senior man sitting in chair and coughing
    2. Coughing at Night
    Everyone’s airways become a little restricted during sleep. Asthma patients tend to experience restricted airways throughout the day, and the issue can be especially disruptive at night. If you are experiencing night coughs or early morning coughs more than twice a month, your current asthma treatment may not be effective.
  • woman-on-beach-using-inhaler
    3. Using Rescue Medications More Than Twice a Week
    Quick-relief medications, sometimes referred to as “rescue medications,” provide asthma patients with a rapid way to treat an asthma attack. If you are reaching for your rescue medication more than two times per week to ease asthma symptoms, it is a sign that you probably need to step up your treatment.
  • hand holding pill over glass of water
    4. Frequent Oral Corticosteroid Use
    Oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can be used in combination with rescue medication for more severe asthma flare-ups. These steroids are typically used in “short bursts” lasting between five days up to two weeks. If you find yourself in need of oral steroid bursts more than a few times a year, it is definitely a sign of poorly controlled asthma.
  • Your Opinion Matters!
    In order to improve our content, we want to hear from you. Please take this short anonymous survey to let us know how we’re doing.
    Take the survey!
  • peak flow meter for asthma
    5. Your Peak Flow Measurements Are Lower
    A peak flow meter for asthma works like a thermometer for a fever. Both measure what is happening in your body. If your peak flow measurements are more than 15% below their normal levels, it may be a sign of nighttime asthma. Having nighttime asthma symptoms is a sign of uncontrolled asthma.
  • Woman consoles her friend
    6. You’re Getting Out Less
    When your asthma symptoms are affecting your quality of life so much that you aren’t taking part in activities you normally enjoy, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment. The stress of uncontrolled asthma symptoms can make daily life difficult and lead to adverse health issues, so it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment with a doctor.
  • Nurse and patient using digital tablet
    The Dangers of Uncontrolled Asthma
    Children with uncontrolled asthma symptoms experience a number of negative health issues, including poor cardiovascular fitness, a higher frequency of obesity, and the development of learning disabilities. Additionally, adults with uncontrolled asthma symptoms are more likely to experience depression and poor concentration. Speak with your doctor about making the right changes to your asthma medication.
6 Signs of Uncontrolled Asthma
  1. Li JT, Oppenheimer J, Bernstein IL, Nicklas RA. Attaining optimal asthma control: A practice parameter. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Nov;116(5):S3-11.
  2. Uncontrolled Asthma. Contemporary Pediatrics Modern
  3. Oral Corticosteroids. Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
  4. O’Byrne PM et al. The poorly explored impact of uncontrolled asthma. Chest. 2013;143(2):511-23.
  5. Peak Flow Meter: Tips to Remember. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.