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Post your questions here for a Q&A with Dr Mike Thomas of Asthma UK(63 Posts)
We're pleased to say that Dr Mike Thomas, the Chief Medical Advisor to Asthma UK, is going to be answering your questions about anything and everything to do with asthma.
Asthma affects 5.4 million people in the UK, and although there is perception that it's no big deal, three people die of it every day in this country.
May 3 is World Asthma Day, and Asthma UK is asking everyone affected by asthma to speak out about how asthma makes them feel and affects their lives. The idea is for sufferers, their family members and friends to join forces, share their stories about how serious asthma can be, and help put asthma on the map.
Please post your questions for Dr Thomas here.
Hello! My DD (4) is seen every 6 weeks at the local Children's Hospital due to severe asthma. She is on Seretide 125, Singulair, and Ventolin.
There doesn't seem to be any 'triggers' for her asthma, and seems to be an issue of controlling the symptoms. What are the percentages of children who out grow asthma?
Lastly, what is best practice for transporting a child with asthma to hospital? I have been told by the GP that she needs to go by ambulance if her O2 levels are 90%, however I don't know what her O2 are!
Hi. Thanks for doing this. My DS (18m) has had 2 bouts of brocolhitis (sorry for the spelling!) where he was hospitalised. Since then he gets really wheezy and needs ventolin and seroids when he picks up a bad cold or virus. My practice nurse tells me this means he has asthma and it will get worse. But most of the time he is fine, so should I be treating the sympthoms only or should he be taking preventive medication (nurse suggested this, but GP over rulled her).
My 4yo seems to have mild asthma, my question is, how do you explain to a small child how to take deep breaths from the spacer? She does little gasps, and I'm sure it's not working because of that.
my 18 month old has also had bronchiolitis at 8 weeks, then 2 chest infections every month for 6 months, once we introduced the brown inhaler he has improved. however, since christmas he has had 3 chest infections-all respond to amoxycilin and steroids- are chest infections different from asthma- could these be asthma attacks?? at the start of each chest infection he pulls in with his breathing at his neck and under his ribs and his breathing rate increases, this then progresses and the cough and crackles begin. i never know when to ring for help? we live 30 minutes away by car from the local hospital so always sit it out (always at night?)
i have been told differeing things about his breathing - that they are viral wheezez, bronchiolitis, allergies, chest infections, viral infections...i never know what is wrong?
At the opposite end of the spectrum - DS (8) has what seems to me to be mild exercise-induced asthma. He gets very short of breath during competitive sport and struggles to keep up despite doing so much sport that he should be very fit - the symptoms sounded very familiar to me (as a mild asthmatic myself) and the GP agreed, so he now has a salbutamol inhaler to take before games.
So my question is - what are the chances of him growing out of it, or of it getting worse? DH is very keen for DS to be able to dive when he gets older (and DS is very keen too!), and current guidelines say that he wouldn't be able to if on any steroids.
Ds is 17 months and currently on 150mg twice daily of clenil and 4-6 puffs of ventolin at least a day. He is due back at the consultant next month who has said if he still needs ventolin daily they will change his drugs.
He mentioned montesculat (sp - the granuals) but I have read mixed reports on these - are they a safe option for such a young child?
Do you think people with chronic chest conditions should get free prescriptions? People with some other chronic conditions get them, and rightly so, but there are many, myself included, who would die without medication, so rely on it, but still have to pay. Any chance of this ever changing?
Also, what do you think can be done to change perceptions of lung disease when it comes to DLA for example, or ESA? Because it is often a fluctuating condition many people do not receive such benefits and then struggle greatly because they are still unable to work due to the fluctuations and exhaustion this causes. With the new ATOS reviews for those already on DLA do you worry that asthmatics and sufferers of other lung diseases will lose benefits and enter into vicious circles of further illness from stress and loss of income?
I have a slghtly strange question if you don't mind? I am asthmatic, I have been since I was about 7 years old. I am currently on Seretide 250 and ventolin. When I became pregnant I stopped Seretide (personal choice, GP told me I could continue with it) and strangely even without Seretide I didn't need my ventolin once, it was as if pregnancy cured my asthma. 3 weeks after giving birth I had a severe asthma attack and now require my Seretide and ventolin again.
Why was I totally symptomless while pregnant?
My DD (nearly 3 years old) has been diagnosed with asthma, although I'm not convinced by this as she doesn't seem to have much of a cough.
However, she often has dry patches around her mouth. Could this be linked?
She often has a snuffly sound in her nose too. She thinks she sounds like a hedgehog!
Sound like asthma to you?
Thanks for your time on this!
First off, I agree with MadHair, I am employed but haven't worked since Feb due to severe asthma, and had over 6 months off with it last year, and am terrified I won't get ESA or DLA.
It's a very real illness, but as you say, many people think it's not that serious, when it almost killed me twice last year, I had to be ventilated at one point.
I'm at the point now where I struggle to out by myself, and usually get a friend or at very least, my 9yr old to come with me. She also does lots round the house that I no longer can.
Anyway, I currently take Seretide, Ventolin, Saline nebs (also have ventolin nebs if needed), Singulair, Mucodyne and Azithromycin. I'm waiting to hear back from my Consultant as he's going to the Professor with my case to see if there's anything else they can do to help, as my asthma is getting worse, not better.
Is there anything else you can suggest that may help, whether that be a medical treatment to ask about, or diet, just general tips on living a normal life?
<sorry for hijack> hi netto, I take all those meds too (have bronchiectasis as well as asthma) and find physio v important for keeping on top of it as much as possible - postural drainage - has your consultant referred you to a respiratory physio? May help a bit? Giving up work is a bummer I know - much sympathy
I had physio in hospital, and it helped. At home I take my saline neb each morning, followed by a hot drink and then cough up as much gunk as I can.
I have been shown techniques to help with this too, aslo I have a hot shower twice a day and the steam helps.
The problem with getting regular physio is that I live in an area where the hospitals aren't near, or easily accessible on Public Transport, and I don't drive or have childcare for DD.
I'm also looking into help for DD, some sort of young carers type place where they can help her and maybe me too which some of the problems, but again, not much available here.
It's all a bit catch 22 until I hopefully get ESA/DLA sorted and then can maybe pay for some help.
Going back to the free prescription/more help for asthmatics financially- the nebuliser I have, I had to buy as the hospital wouldn't give me one even after a 12 days hospital stay including being in ITU.
It's such a postcode lottery I have one from my local hospital and desperately need it but know of others like yourself who have had to buy it.
Hope you get DLA etc sorted. Please feel free to PM me as I have done the whole DLA thing. All the best.
I have the ESA forms to be back by May 20th, but I need a supporting letter from the Consultant first, and one from the GP. I think I need that in place before I can get DLA?
I will be in touch if I get stuck, I hear the whole process is a bit of a nightmare.
My DS has mild asthma which gives him a persistant night cough but which has only twice caused an actual attack. He has been on Flixotide for two years (2 puffs am and 2 puffs pm) and rarely needs his Salbutamol inhaler. Will he grow out of this in time? Will it stay the same/get worse? Is there anything more I can do?
Hi. I am ashthmatic, and have had a bad few years with it which seemed to be triggered by being pregnant with my 3rd child. I have been hospitalised several times with pneumonia. It seems to (fingers crossed) be under control now with the help of Singulair, Phyllocontin, Symbicort and Salbutamol. I think a lot of the problem was stress, which in turn gets worse as not being able to breathe makes you more stressed! Lots of other things trigger it (hay fever, certain foods etc) but the reaction is always worse if I am stressed.
As I say, things are a lot better than they were, although it has taken 5 years to get to this point. My question is: what is the best way to make sure that this good stretch continues and I don't go back to how things were when I was being hospitalised 2-3 times a year?
What are the chances of further attacks in a child of 6yrs who had no previous history of asthma but for no obvious reason had a number of severe attacks where he ended up on amninophiline IV and in high dependency.
My son is now on an 8 week prednisolene course, with 2 x 2 puffs of brown and up 2 10 puffs salbutamol 4 hourly and hopefully now under control and displaying no signs of being asthmatic.
When he finishes prednisolene is there a chance he could go downhill again?
Also, Should schools have asthma policies in place as a matter of course because mine does NOT.
My DD is 17 and is atopic and has severe asthma she is currently on the symbicort smart programme, ventolin, montelukast, intel inhaler, cetirizine, tranexamic acid, nasonex, sodium cromoglicate eye drops, piriton, and a few other creams and medicines for eczema and GERD. She also carries epipens and an adrenaline inhaler. But despite all this she has still had 10 lots of steroids in the last 9 months some with ABs and some without between 20 and 70 mg and she is currently on a 6 week course to try to get her off of them. But shes had 7 admissions in the past year including high dependency and numerous other A&E visits and OOHs/GP appointments in your opinion what would be the next stage of treatment to try to improve symptoms? Thank you.
Hello I have 2 questions
First ds1 is 6 and is on seritide 125 2 puffs am and pm, montelukast, ventolin either via neb or inhaler depends on how bad he is at least 4 times a day, ceterizine 10ml daily and beconase nose spray he is still suffering and getting very wheezy at times he has recently had a stay in hospital. We are back at the consultant in a few weeks what could they try next?
ds2 is 16 months and on flixotide, ventolin, atrovent montelukast and long term clarithroymicin for a possible endobronchal(sp) infection he also takes omeprazole and ranitadine for reflux is their any investigations I should be asking for.
Hope you can help with my question Dr Thomas.
I've used ventolin and becotide/clenil inhalers since I was about seven, usually a couple of times a day when wheezy.
For the past two months, I've suddenly stopped needed them almost totally. I've used my blue inhaler probably five times in that time. Despite the hayfever season now being upon us, my asthma seems to have all but disappeared.
My triggers are dust, dogs, cats, grass (what the dr described as level four allergies after blood tests) and sometimes exercising, laughing too much and perfumes would set me off. If I was poorly with a cold I'd be using my inhalers a lot.
Would be really grateful for any insight into why this has happened - I'm not complaining, just curious! Nothing else has changed in my life/diet.
Thanks in advance.
I'm 30 years old, by the way.
Just a quicky. I only started suffering from asthma when I was about 15 (triggered by kittens). I am now 30, is it possible for asthma to improve or even disappear with age?
Hello, I just wondered what are normal breathing rates for babies? My DS is ten months and seems to breathe fast more often than not. He pulls in under his ribs and his shoulders seem to pull up with each breath. He grunts sometimes too but doesn't flare his nostrils. He is on clenil, atrovent, ventolin and just had 3 days course of Prednisolone and now montelukast for a month. It's hard when they say they cant diagnose asthma due to him being so young but he hasn't been unwell to have got a virus for it to be viral wheezing. I think if they said it's asthma and this is what to do I would be fine. I dont want to feel like im panicking all of the time but him breathing fast and coughing/choking at night only worries me sick. Thanks
My son has asthma, symptoms are night time cough, choking, breath holding, struggling to breathe and so much fluid he sounds like he is drowning.
Anyway, I recently did a product test through mumsnet, was for a Sharp Plasmacluster air purifier/ humidifier.
Everyone on the trial saw a big improvement with their childrens asthma and allergy symptoms. It has been a miracle for us and DS is no longer awake all night choking and coughing.
Would this be a product Asthma UK could look at as the results we have had are truly amazing. Would be fantastic if more people could benefit.
I would ask, for a final, definitive answer regarding asthma being triggered by colds/viruses (virii?? )
My children both seem to have asthma that only occurs when they are ill with a cold or bronchitis, or a cough or similar. In the past we have seen a lot of doctors and can get no definitive answer as to whether asthma can be triggered by such things. The doctor that diagnosed both of my children says yes, yet I have been almost laughed at by other doctors for asking such a thing - been told that it is silly to think that asthma is caused by a cold and that it is simply a viral wheeze (for the millionth time)
Can you shed any light on this please?
I would like to second (third?) Madhair's brilliant question re: asthma being a condition which should be entitled to free prescriptions. I have suffered since I was 8 years old (so, for 30 years now) and dread to think how much I have had to spend on life saving ventolin inhalers!
My question is for myself - As a lifetime sufferer, I have experienced bad periods of illness which have included prolonged hospital stays, and less bad times where I have maintained some small semblance of control over the illness - As I am getting older I have been trying very hard to stick to taking my preventer spray and am currently on 2 x 100 Beclomestastone diapriopionate (uh? I always knew it as Becotide) puffs twice daily and I have been impressed with the reduction in my ventolin intake...
However - despite using mouthwash/rinsing my mouth after use/brushing my teeth etc after use I am suffering terribly from a sore mouth, cracking of the tongue and numbness of the tip of my tongue; I appreciate that the Becotide is helping my lungs but am very worried about the effects it appears to be having on my mouth and am also distressed at the amount of pain I am in.
Are there any other steps I can take to reduce the negative effects of the steroid spray which won't compromise the positive effects? <rubs genie lamp>
i have rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. rheumatology consultant said i can no longer take anti-inflammatories due to having a few severe asthma attacks. this has a huge impact on my mobility. i can no longer take morphine or tramadol because i have low blood pressure and been admitted with it dangerously low.
my question is - what painkillers are safe to take when you have asthma? are there any anti-inflammatories drugs i could take? diflonec was the one which triggered severe asthma attacks. are there any others?
i am 42. i take serevent, qvar and ventolin to control asthma. i have tried various inhalers over the years but became allergic to them. my asthma nurse says this is the last combination i can try. is this correct?
(for reference i was taking methetrexate for arthritis but due to abnormal liver function have had to stop that for a while)
i spent time in hospital on a steroid drip for arthritis and my asthma was better for about 3 weeks. was lovely! why is there such a restriction on steroid drips? i accept side effects but at least quality of life was so much more improved
sorry so long
I too would like to support the free prescription for asthma related drugs. - and that doesn't mean all my prescriptions should be free.
I have just been prescribed Singulair - My gp will only allow 1 month at a time and according to her it is NHS rules I don't think it's fair I now have to pay £7.40 every 28 days on-top of any inhalers. Am I really being that unreasonable to want 2 months supply for the £7.40 charge?
My son is 11, and atopic. He has been on flixotide, serevent and ventolin since he was 4, and now also on neoclarityn and nasonex in the summer/hayfever season. He is allergic to dust, pollen and cats. He is very well controlled.
However, after a 2 day admission in January for an asthmatc crisis, we were advised to look into montelukast as an alternative. Given that he is well contolled on his current meds, so you think there is any benefit moving to a new regime?
Also, can the onset of puberty in boys make asthma worse? I have heard/read that puberty can be the turning point for "curing" asthma, but wondered if the opposite could also be true. We seem to have had a very bad 6 months. He also has a bad case of "Kevin and Perry" -itis....
It has been posited that today's standards of cleanliness and hygeine are contributory factors - or even causal - in the increase of incidence of asthma, particularly in children. Do you think that if we spent less time cleaning, children would develop stronger immune systems when they're young?
Was going to post the same question as JUX re hygiene and cleaning products. My whole family have asthma,eczema and hayfever. DD has an epi pen due to nut allergy.
Thank you for this Q&A.
My DS was hospitalised with broncholitus at 8 weeks old. He is now 7 months and has not had a single day without wheezing sometimes finding it quite hard to breath. This has resulted in several trips to the GP and A&E. On these occasions I am always told that it is not Asthma but after effects of the broncholitus (His dad has fairly bad asthma).
He has been given an Atrovent inhaler, It does not seem to do much. I am worried that he seems to be getting worse and wonder should I be pushing for a referral (to who?)? Should he be being treated as if he has Asthma?
ladybiskybat - my son is EXACTLY the same as yours he is now 18 months old.-has been like this since birth. he now has a funny rib cage. my sons brreathing rate is the first thing i notice before he gets ill- it becomes louder and faster about 60 breaths a minute. when he is well it is about 37 breaths a minute. i do wonder if this is an "attack" when he gets this- which then leads onto a chest infection about 2 days later.
My question is for myself and a bit long sorry. I have had pneumonia last year when pregnant with my son and seem to have repeated chest infections ever since. I also have had several times a feeling that my lungs are burning. I have always felt that I can't breathe properly. I also am allergic to cats, dog and have hayfever. Cats make me wheeze. My doctor has put me on brown and blue inhaler for the past month and it has made a difference but I do have to use the blue inhaler at least two or three times a day.
My question is twice in the past three weeks I have felt so bad when waking up that I had to go back to bed. The first time was the morning after strenuous exercise. I had to take my blue inhaler and go back to bed then was fine. The second time was yesterday. I woke up feeling very tightchested with painful lungs and throat and couldn't breathe. I had to go back to be for 3 hours and felt very tired after that (still feel tired today). My muscles (in legs and arms) felt very weak and shaky. I only had a little wheeze and cough for about 10 minutes when I woke up but I felt as if I had loads of fluid/phlegm and it feels worse when lying down. Generally I do not cough or wheeze. I went to my doctor yesterday who did a peak flow and said it was fine.
From the symptoms summarised above, could this be asthma? or is it something compeltely unrelated?
Dear Dr Thomas,
My oldest daughter started ventolin syrup at 3 for night time coughing and at age 24 is a regular user of various inhalers. She is 2 inches shorter than predicted.
When my second daughter, 16 years younger, started night time coughing at 3 I avoided the ventolin route and tried massage and steamers etc. I started her on a salt pipe at about age 4 and this, I believe, has made the biggest single difference. Instead of being up through the night with her coughing she could have a last session at about 11pm and sleep through. She shows hardly any asthmatic tendencies now she is 7.
My oldest daughter, who is now a nurse, tells me that there is sound evidence that salt pipes relieve symptoms and help strengthen the air pipe such that it is less likely to collapse inwards, but this only occurs in small children - it is too late for her. However, she says, G.P.s are reluctant to recommend it in case parents fail to use ventolin in a life threatening situation.
Can you please recommend a salt pipe to all the young mothers in this chat room. It is no fun growing up chronic asthmatic. If a salt pipe reduces the triggers and makes the difference as with my second daughter then shouldn't it be the first choice for small children.
All good wishes, Helen
My son (4y) has just been diagnosed with hayfever and allergic asthma. He now has a ventolin inhaler+spacer to take at night.
Will that be enough? Should I take him to the astma nurse for assessment regularly? His peak flow was fine at the paed today but he coughs and wheezes during the night (very high pollen count where we are atm).
Another question about myself, my allergic asthma as child was left untreated as my mother doesn't believe in conventional medicine and 'treated' me with homeopathy instead. My asthma has now changed from asthmatic to chronic. Could there be a connection?
D.H. and D.S. had asthma that was cured by giving up dairy products and using the Buteyko breathing system . Could most asthmatics respond in the same way?
<<I've seen lots of posts about prescription charges (in England) for asthma sufferers not being free . To limit your cost you need a pre-payment certificate. I've written a thread about them here in order to avoid diverting this thread.>>
Forkful, I've not paid for my prescriptions in years, as I'm on a low income, and I live in Scotland so all are free now, but I still think it's a valid point to raise.
Asthmatics shouldn't have to limit their costs, they shouldn't have to pay them at all.
I would also like you to answer PfftTheMagicDragon's question regarding virii - DS only every gets asthma when he gets a virus and he seems to get completely different symptoms to his sister when they both contract the same thing - he gets wheezy/coughing she gets snotty and stroppy.
Hi and thanks for coming
I am asthmatic but I only have symptoms when I am exposed to allergens. The problem is that my job involves unavoidable exposure to them!
I manage with daily antihistamines and occasional salbutamol. I have been given betamethasone but don't use it as although my peak flow's generally a bit low I don't feel that my symptoms are frequently severe, and if they are I can get by with extra salbutamol. Often the symptoms are at their worst at night after daytime exposure so I guess it is reactively managed.
Is long term exposure to allergens likely to cause me chronic respiratory problems or can I continue to be as
cavalier laid back about managing it? I have asked GPs in the past and never been given a definitive answer.
I developed asthma when I was 18 following a pretty bad case of bronchitis, I am now 37 and have to take seretide twice a day and flixotide 50 twice a day (upped to flixotide 250 when I have chest infections...). Every winter I end up with chest infections after a cold and this winter I had 4 courses of antibiotics along with prednisoline to resolve an infection that was hanging around for 2 months!
What can I do to try and avoid this and am I ever likely to be able to come off my inhalers?
Thanks very much for your questions. We're going to send them off to Dr Thomas now, and endeavour to get the answers up in time for World Asthma Day on May 3.
In the meantime, if you haven't already, you might like to have a look at the Get It Off Your Chest campaign, where you can post up your experiences.
I'll post the link to the answers page when it's up.
Hello. My son was diagnosed with Asthma when he was about 2, he is almost 9 now. Over the years we've had conflicting opinions - it might be croup or it is still asthma. he only gets symptoms when he gets a cold. He's been taking medication for the length of the asthma and has been taking Symbicort for 2 years- I'm concerned about the prolonged use of strong medication and confliction opinions - can you provide any advice please?
Hi am I to late to join this thread now. My son is 5 and got diagnosed with asthma at the age of 3 after a battle with the gp as my dp didnt agree he had asthma. Even though I got diagnosed at the same age and he had all of the symptoms. Eventually he agreed and prescribed ventolin. Miracaolusy within a day of taking it his symptoms improved. He has been managing well just on ventolin when needed not used much in the summer but regulary in the winter. He is monitored by the asthma nurse at our gp surgery we have moved so have a new gp.
The question is the last 2 weeks he has had to use is inhaler more often even to the degree of using it 3 or 4 times during the school day. I have got an appointment with the asthma nurse next week. But I am thinking it sounds like his asthma has got worse so what type of diffrent medication is there now I use becotide daily and ventolin.
Thank you Dr Thomas - that has put my mind at rest enormously! If only our hospital consultants could answer questions like this in such a straightforward manner.
Thank you very much, a very interesting Q&A!
Thanks very much for that Dr T. I'd better toddle along to the GP again. Very thorough and informative Q&A, great!
Excellent. I shall never clean again.
A bit belated wanted to say a big thank you to Dr Thomas
Thank you for your reply Dr Thomas
So sorry I missed this I have lots of stuff about DD & DH I want clarifying
Thank you so much for your answers Dr Thomas.
a belated big thank you. i see my consultant this week and will be printing off your thorough answer and following up the suggestions. thank you very much
Another belated Thank you. I will see the GP this week and be very demanding. Thanks again.
Hello, please can you give me some advice regarding the use of Seretide 250mcg in pregnancy. I have had asthma since the age of 7 and it hasnt really improved over the years, so a few years ago my doctor at the time put me on seretide. I am really panicking now that this medication has affected my unborn baby as everywhere on google suggests that this shouldnt be taken in pregnancy. I have been given assurance from my current GP but still cannot relax, I am now 12 weeks pregnant and have been using it since day one. Thank you.
Hi my daughter is 12years old and just over two weeks ago was having difficulty breathing. My husband took her straight to a&e as it was late in the evening. After doing various breathing tests and examinations, they gave her a salbutamol inhaler and spacer, which has helped. The doctor said he would write to the doctors surgery. I waited two weeks then rang for an appointment, as the inhaler was running low. With the Christmas holidays the next appointment was 3rd Jan 2012, I asked the receptionist if they had received the letter from the a&e doctor, they had. I requested another inhaler as the one my daughter had was running low, they refused and said that I would have to see a doctor, but again it wouldn't be until 3rd January 2012. Can the receptionists do this? Would be grateful for your advice.
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