Bronchospasm is a term used to describe the unusual narrowing or constriction of the airways. The symptoms of bronchospasm typically mimic those of asthma, a chronic lung disease, though people who don't have asthma can experience bronchospasm. Mild bronchospasm symptoms may resolve without additional medical intervention, but severe bronchospasm symptoms require emergency medical care.
In healthy people, air flows freely into the lungs when they inhale. During bronchospasm, this inhaled air has a difficult time flowing through a person's narrowed airways. As the air squeezes through the tightened airway, it can make a squeaking or whistling sound, a bronchospasm symptom called wheezing, the American Academy of Family Physicians sponsored website FamilyDoctor.org explains. Wheezing typically occurs during inhalation and may be audible to other people who are near a person experiencing bronchospasm.
Chest Pain or Tightness
When the airways constrict during a bronchospasm, people may experience sensations of pain, pressure or tightness in the chest, the Cleveland Clinic reports. Chest discomfort may be more severe when the lungs expand during inhalation and can exacerbate breathing difficulties. People who experience sudden or severe chest pain should seek immediate medical care, as this symptom of a bronchospasm attack is also a sign of a heart attack.
Breathing Difficulties or Coughing
People who experience a bronchospasm attack may develop mild to severe breathing difficulties, depending upon the extent of airway constriction. Extensive airway constriction can cause sudden shortness of breath, a bronchospasm symptom that requires emergency medical care, MayoClinic.com advises. Airway irritation caused by bronchospasm may also lead to symptoms of a recurrent or persistent cough. Frequent coughing can exacerbate chest pain or discomfort symptoms in people who experience bronchospasm.