How Do You Describe What Asthma Feels Like?

How do you describe what an asthma feels like? 

I usually describe it as an elephant sitting on my chest.

Do you have an analogy that can help others understand the feeling?


Comments 9

  • K8sMom2002

    Breathing through a feather pillow … at their start, that's what my asthma attacks feel like — it's like I've got a million fluttery things in my chest and I cough and cough and cough and nothing clears it.

    Air goes in (or at least it seems like it — my doctors tell me differently) but it's like Hotel California — it doesn't go out. And so I can't get GOOD air in. Then comes the tightness and air starvation and the inevitable panic. 

    I'm lucky — my asthma attacks are on the mild side. I really feel for folks who have it far worse than me.

  • Kathy P

    That's exactly what happens! You can't breathe out well, so you can't get new air in.

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, boy! Finally someone who agrees with me. My docs always just shake their head and say, "No, it just FEELS like you're getting air in, it's not really." 

  • Jen

    It's  good to read these.  I think so many people (general public) think of wheezing and shortness of breath when it comes to asthma, but wouldn't think of some of these descriptions.  I think they are helpful for those new to asthma, as well as those who may be caring for someone with asthma.

  • Kathy P

    I love this video where kids are saying how it feels! Like trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton.

  • Katie D

    It definitely is eye opening to hear how kids describe how it feels.

    I recall my teammates in high school asking me to explain what it felt like and the best analogy for me was 'like an elephant sitting on my chest.'  I would also feel a little light-headed.  

  • HikaControl

    For me it feels like: shallow breathing, tight chest – that feeling that your lungs have "weight" all of a sudden, then you can just feel the mucus production. As for the cough that comes with asthma, it feels like when I cough, I have TB

  • Kathy P

    When I coughed as a kid, my dad would tell me that it "sounded like the consumption ward!"

  • K8sMom2002

    I really hate the looks some people give you when you start coughing…sometimes they give you looks like you're a Typhoid Mary. 

    I really like the folks who "get" asthma and know how it is.