The clinical signs of asthma on examination are:
- A generalised, expiratory wheeze, especially on forced expiration.
- The chest may appear full (hyperexpanded due to air trapping) with prolonged expiration.
- There may be lower chest wall indrawing.
- The use of muscles in the abdomen or neck during expiration suggests severe airways obstruction.
- Cyanosis, drowsiness or panic are signs of respiratory failure.
- Usually there is no fever.
- Long standing, poorly controlled asthma may result in chest deformity and poor growth.
- Between acute attacks the chest examination is usually normal.
The sudden onset of wheezing during play in a well child with no history of asthma suggests the inhalation of a foreign body.