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Post your questions here for a Q&A with Dr Mike Thomas of Asthma UK

(64 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 27-Apr-11 10:55:37

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.



FannyFifer Wed 27-Apr-11 21:54:17

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.

PfftTheMagicDragon Wed 27-Apr-11 21:55:37

I would ask, for a final, definitive answer regarding asthma being triggered by colds/viruses (virii?? grin)

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?

QuelleLeJeff Wed 27-Apr-11 22:12:02

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>

chickchickchicken Wed 27-Apr-11 22:19:25

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

Furball Thu 28-Apr-11 06:22:33

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 confused 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?

HattiFattner Thu 28-Apr-11 09:04:47

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.... grin

Jux Thu 28-Apr-11 10:02:57

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?

MotherSnacker Thu 28-Apr-11 12:49:01

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.

Thingsfallapart Thu 28-Apr-11 13:22:29

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?

mumtoaandj Thu 28-Apr-11 13:36:04

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.

lifeistooshort Thu 28-Apr-11 13:50:25

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?

onesmallkayak Thu 28-Apr-11 15:08:37

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

mousymouse Thu 28-Apr-11 15:32:24

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?

ppeatfruit Thu 28-Apr-11 17:02:15

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?

forkful Thu 28-Apr-11 18:44:02

<<I've seen lots of posts about prescription charges (in England) for asthma sufferers not being free sad. 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.>>

NettoSuperstar Thu 28-Apr-11 18:48:06

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.

whomovedmychocolate Thu 28-Apr-11 20:58:26

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. confused

fartingfran Thu 28-Apr-11 22:25:15

Hi and thanks for coming smile

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.

notremotelyintofootie Thu 28-Apr-11 22:27:02

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?

nottirednow Fri 29-Apr-11 08:59:54

Message withdrawn

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 29-Apr-11 10:24:28

Hello all,

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.


NK2fce16b6X11b507a801f Sat 30-Apr-11 09:26:17

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?
Thank you

tjacksonpfc Sat 30-Apr-11 10:22:46

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.

many thanks

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 03-May-11 09:33:27

Hi everyone, we've got the answers to your asthma questions now from Dr Mike Thomas - thanks to him, and thanks to everyone who posted questions.

Today's World Asthma Day and we've got more information about Asthma UK's Get It Off Your Chest campaign here.

ilovemydogandMrObama Tue 03-May-11 09:41:17

Thank you! smile

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