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Talk to me about asthma please

(26 Posts)
Daisiesandgerberas Wed 18-Jan-17 13:14:30

Newly diagnosed after a 3 month-long chest infection. Apparently it was made on my GP's notes a full year ago but I was never told or guven any meds confused New GP bow saying they know it's asthma because steroids killed it.

(Immune system is shot due to an autoimmune problem.)

On Ventolin but am crackling a lot, wheezy & apparently have an irritated upper tract.

I don't know anyone who has it & I know nothing at all about it.

Does it come back whenever it feels like it??

Can I do anything to prevent it?

How do I know it's asthma & not another chest infection?

All knowledge & experience welcome please....

Losgunna Wed 18-Jan-17 13:26:53

I have asthma ( but quite mild) I find it's worse when the air is cold or I have a cold/cough type virus. Ventolin really helps. Have a look at
I found it very helpful

Losgunna Wed 18-Jan-17 13:26:54

I have asthma ( but quite mild) I find it's worse when the air is cold or I have a cold/cough type virus. Ventolin really helps. Have a look at
I found it very helpful

SixtiesChildOfWildBlueSkies Wed 18-Jan-17 13:28:20

Steroids are anti - inflammatories and are used for things other than asthma, so being prescribed them doesn't necessarily 'prove' you have asthma, though the action of the steroid on your health condition may be indicative of asthma.

Are you aware of any triggers that may set you off wheezing? Mine are chemicals such as plug- in air fresheners, aerosols, cigarette smoke etc, so I avoid them as much as I can to help prevent episodes of wheezing/breathlessness. There are other triggers too such as dust mites, cold air, etc.

I also had an afternoon of tests in hospital outpatients a few years ago to confirm my asthma diagnosis - I was sent by my GP.

Go back to your GP and ask for more information. Ask if you have an asthma nurse at your GP, if you do make an appointment to see them.

Read up on the condition - knowledge is power.

ZippyNeedsFeeding Wed 18-Jan-17 13:34:05

Does your GP clinic have an asthma nurse? Ours does and she is far better than any of the doctors. If you only have a blue Ventolin inhaler, that will treat the attacks, but not prevent them. There are other inhalers (and also tablets) which can make an attack less likely.
If you can get to an asthma clinic, ask about a peak flow diary- you record your peak flow morning and night and also any incidents of wheezing or coughing. It can help you to spot your patterns and triggers.

BeachyKeen Wed 18-Jan-17 13:36:48

I developed asthma 2 years ago, side effect of sarcoidosis, it was discovered by doing the spirometry (sp? ) tests. Basically I sit in a little phone booth thing with a nose clip on and do different breathing tests into a tube.
They check how much air is going in, and how much you are using, and how well it is replaced.
I've learned to use my advair regularly, it is the long term one to act as maintenance one, and I have a blue puffer for actual attacks or when I have a bad cold. Make sure you learn to use the spacer properly so you actually get the medicine down into the lungs, and rinse well after so you don't get thrush.
You will get in the habit of transferring your puffer to your different bags, but to start with I forgot mine a lotblush

wfrances Wed 18-Jan-17 14:01:59

i was diagnosed last year after back to back lung infections
pneumonia(3rd time ) /whooping cough(2nd time) and having chronic bile reflux -all seem to have irritated my airways.
ventolin doesnt work on me , i take fostair and oral steroids during a flare up.
for me , ive only had really severe attacks when ive had a chest virus /infection , and caused by bile /gases coming up esophagus when sleeping and irritating my airway .

im under the asthma consultant and nurse, they didn't think i have the normal allergic asthma -blood tests to allergens was normal.

everytime ive done the lung function tests ,ive passed because ive not been symptomatic , but when my airways start to close ,they close fast and i have to get emergency treatment
lowest recorded o2 was 79 ,thats when they realised ventolin doesnt work on me -after about 30 puffs in 24 hrs and getting worse and worse
are you finding any relief on the ventolin??
do you have an asthma plan written by a gp/nurse?

loinnir Wed 18-Jan-17 14:14:02

You should have an asthma plan - either from your GP's specialist asthma nurse (who should invite you for an annual asthma check) or from the Outpatients asthma clinic. Surprised you only have blue ventolin inhaler - usually you also need a brown "preventer" or a combination inhaler such as Seretide (which totally revolutionsed my DH life when he insisted on trying it several years ago). Asthma is no joke - insist on getting some proper help with managing it.

yellowfrog Wed 18-Jan-17 14:36:26

long-time asthmatic here. It's a bit of a sod of a condition, and definitely take it seriously, but it is manageable so don't panic.

When you have asthma, certain triggers cause your lungs to constrict, making it harder to breathe. These triggers can be things like getting a cough/cold (prime asthma time!) animal fur, pollen, chemicals from things like air fresheners, running, chlorine in swimming pools, laughing too much (thanks lungs!), or other things your lungs feel like getting in a snit about. You will get to know your triggers over time, which means you can manage them (eg avoid hugging the cat, don't run for the bus, etc)

You treat the attack with the blue inhaler which is a drug that opens up the airways. Often it's two puffs and see how that works. Always always always carry it with you, in your bag/coat/pocket. No matter how annoying, do not ever leave the house without it. You can guarantee you won't need it until the one time you leave it at home.

Unless your asthma is really really mild, you will probably need a preventer drug, which is the brown inhaler. This contains locally acting (ie lungs only) steroids that basically stop your lungs being so reactive to everything. You take this regularly, eg every day/twice a day/etc. Getting the dose of this right can be a bit tricky and this is where seeing an asthma nurse is excellent. Mine taught me when I should be increasing my dose, when I could decrease it again, and that's really helped me stay on top of my asthma. Obviously, don't increase or decrease your dose of any medication without discussing it with your medical professional first.

One of the main measures of asthma is Peak Flow. They get you to blow into a hand-held device that measures what volume of air you are blowing out in the first second of breathing out. They will know what this should be based on your height and sex (mine should be able 450ml) and they can then look at what yours actually is and see how constricted your lungs are. You can get peak flow meters prescribed and I would suggest asking for one or buying one as you can then measure it yourself and see how you are on a twice-daily basis. This is great for tracking your asthma so you can more easily manage it. For example, the asthma nurse I saw told me that if my peak flow was between A and B if was fine, between B and C I should increase my preventer dose to get the asthma back under control, between C and D I should see a doctor and between D and E call an ambulance. I tracked mine for a few months - I no longer do because I know what sets me off and what precautions to take. I still check my peak flow on occasion though - if I have a cold for example.

leedy Wed 18-Jan-17 14:42:46

I've had asthma for nearly 40 years at this stage, though it goes through phases - it was pretty bad as a kid, eased off in my teens, then came back the first time I was pregnant and never really went away.

As pp have said, it's a bit of a pain but it can be totally managed. If I'm taking my meds (I'm on a combined inhaler called Symbicort) my peak flow is that of a normally be-lunged person. Having a cold does a serious number on it, ditto some allergens (I also get hay fever, woo).

yellowfrog Wed 18-Jan-17 14:44:59

And in terms of your specific questions - how to prevent flare-ups.

Partly this is down to knowing your specific triggers, eg if you are allergic to cats, wash your hands after touching one and don't touch your face until your hands are washed.

Generally anything like a cough/cold/flu will set off asthma, so rest well when you get any of these illnesses. If you try to battle through them you risk having them for longer than if you took a couple of days off in bed.

If it's cold outside, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth as cold air can set asthma off. If you're not fit (me!) don't run for the bus if it's too far away to catch easily.

TabithaLark Wed 18-Jan-17 15:18:11

The website is

TarragonChicken Wed 18-Jan-17 15:38:21

Newly diagnosed after a 3 month-long chest infection. Apparently it was made on my GP's notes a full year ago but I was never told or guven any meds confused New GP bow saying they know it's asthma because steroids killed it.

This is poor practice in diagnosing asthma, but not unusual. The NICE guidelines on asthma diagnosis are in the last phases of consultation; you can find the draft proposal if you google. A diagnosis of asthma should consider a clinical picture and objective measures. Have you been referred for spirometry (lung function tests)? I would argue that at the moment you don't have a diagnosis of asthma, you have a GP saying this looks like asthma, let's see what happens. Given that you have an auto-immune disorder I would push for spirometry +- associated tests to make sure this is asthma, not some other cause of airway irritation.

I second what a pp said about seeing an asthma nurse. IME most surgeries will have one and nurses are much better at following guidelines than doctors! and the asthma pages of are good sources of information.

Okumara Wed 18-Jan-17 15:56:00

Just repeating what others have said, see the asthma nurse, explain that you know nothing of the condition and get an asthma plan written up. I was also diagnosed as an adult and the amount of stuff it was assumed I would magically know was vast.
I have cough variant so my plan says stuff like, increase one med as soon as I show signs of a cold. Make gp/nurse appointment if coughing more than three days etc

GeminiRising Wed 18-Jan-17 16:02:27

Long time asthmatic here. I have inhalers but very rarely use them. My asthma is controlled by taking a tablet called Montelukast, I have one a day (at night). It's worked really well for me and I do notice if I forget to take a tablet as I'm a bit wheezy the next day. I used to find if the weather was very cold or the pollen was high I'd be a bit wheezy but this is less common now as I am a lot fitter than I was this time last year. You need to have a proper talk with your asthma nurse and discuss how you're going to manage the condition.

Mrsdarcyiwish10 Wed 18-Jan-17 16:32:36

I'm also a long term asthmatic, for years it was well controlled then out of the blue 2 years ago it became chronic, I take preventative inhalers as well as Zafirlukast (montelukast did a right number on my liver) and am finding I am a lot less wheezy now and getting better all the time.

RazWaz Wed 18-Jan-17 18:20:43

I also have adult onset asthma, and I know what a shock it can be. You only mentioned one inhaler, which may be why you are finding yourself still wheezy, you should have two, a blue one which is to be used if you ever feel breathless or wheezy, or are having an asthma attack. And a second one (most likely brown) which you use twice in the morning and twice at night, this one helps prevent symptoms from happening and tends to mean you only struggle when you hit a trigger. If you only have one, get back to the doctor and ask for the other, also ask for a referral to an asthma clinic which is usually nurse-led and they will teach you how to manage things, notice symptoms, and check that you are using your inhalers properly.

If you find yourself struggling to use the inhaler (coughing when you take it or finding it hard to hold your breath long enough) then ask for a spacer - it's a simple device that you attach your inhaler too and then breath in and out of it slowly. I have one myself as it makes taking my inhalers easier.

Over time you'll come to figure out your triggers, and they could be literally anything, for me it's perfumes and scents, and laughing too hard - yes you CAN laugh yourself into an asthma attack so make sure you have an inhaler nearby just in case when you sit down to a comedy.

I highly suggest getting duplicate inhalers and have one in the bedroom, one in the living room, and one that you carry around at all times outside the house. When an attack starts it needs to be treated promptly, I don't want to scare you, but asthma can kill very fast. I lost my best friend to an asthma attack on her own 10th birthday as she lost her inhaler at a party.

Be very careful when you pick up colds/chest infections, you may need a short course of steroids to help you recover. I need it for around 1 in 5 of my illnesses but some need it for every one. Don't be afraid of going to the doctors thinking you'll be told it's viral and to go home as steroids can and do help asthma sufferers during viral infections.

Daisiesandgerberas Wed 18-Jan-17 18:40:16

Wow, thankyou all so, so much.

I have an awful lot to take in, l have the blue Ventolin & spacer but was told just to use it as & when. Having no knowledge of this, I genuinely don't know when that is & I feel so thick for saying that. A preventative has never been mentioned to me. I have only ever used that gadget that measures the Peak Flow at times if very bad chest infections that turned into bronchitis.

There is a lot of information here that I need to rake through properly when I can concentrate fully with no errors. Thankyou for the links to the drugs & sites. I genuinely appreciate all the words you have all said flowers

I think in my head psychologically all I have is chest infections....this is all so new. How the heck do I tell the difference? I'm so naive. sad

Raz, I am so sorry to read your words. There's that scene in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle & it distresses me every time.

I found myself today going out without it & soon regretted it. As a result I am noticeably worse and everyone noticed. I was only given the medication yesterday so as you all rightly highlight, I've already learned that having it to hand is a must.

Babyroobs Wed 18-Jan-17 18:44:17

My dh has pretty bad asthma which started when he was around 22. he is on steroids all the time ( prednisolone) and adjust the dose if he has an exacerbation. He occasionally needs antibiotics too. His consultant has tried many different treatments over the years none of which have really .helped.
Some people just need steroids when they have a flare up, they can have nasty side effects if like my dh you have to have them long term. Hopefully yours can be managed with inhalers and occasional course of steroids.

downwardfacingdog Wed 18-Jan-17 18:46:53

I get post-viral lung irritation which I get after coughs/colds which makes me cough and wheeze after the slightest exertion. I also wheeze if I cuddle my cats of spend time in a doggy house. I don't have an asthma diagnosis though it sounds kind of similar to mild asthma, but I've never had an asthma attack so I guess that's the difference?

Babyroobs Wed 18-Jan-17 18:47:11

Just to add, my dh is chronically wheezy, has never really had an attack where he has ended up in hospital or anything. He has allergies to cats, perhaps they will do allergy testing on you?

VeryBitchyRestingFace Wed 18-Jan-17 18:49:30

I've had it since I was 6. It was always very mild, then inexplicably started to worsen about 5 years ago, when I was early 30s.

Trigger is cold temperatures (air/cold drinks). Winter is absolutely wretched. May have to emigrate somewhere hot and sunny! confused

topcat2014 Wed 18-Jan-17 18:57:55

"hand that rocks the cradle" got me too!

To OP: ask about a preventer as well. I use seretide, as I couldn't get on with the brown ones - they made me cough violently.

I also have a peak flow meter to keep an eye on things.

Okumara Wed 18-Jan-17 19:16:39

You learn when you need to use your inhaler over time, it took me ages to properly learn the difference between a normal cough and an asthma cough

Okumara Wed 18-Jan-17 19:20:21

You probably need to take more ventolin than you think especially if you have had a chest infection. Have you been told about attacks and exacerbation?

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