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asthma and flu - advice?

(18 Posts)
AnneOfAvonlea Thu 11-Dec-08 13:33:57

I just posted this on allergies then realised i shoul have probably posted her on health blush,

I was diagnosed with seasonal asthma about 4 years ago by GP. It seems to get worse in winter and clear up in summer. It is primarily triggered by a virus.

I have a blue ventolin inhaler to take as needed and a brown clenil inhaler to take 2 x a day. I take the brown inhaler when I am experiencing symptoms so not all year.

This week I have had flu. Fever for 48 hours, cold, cough etc. I am left with a nasty cough, lots of green phlegm and continuous breathlessness.

I know I shouldnt take the blue inhaler more than every 4 hours during the day. When I take it I get some relief for a while but I am permanently wheezy and short of breath at the moment.

Is this 'normal' ie to be expected in an asthmatic after the flu? Or am I not managing the condition properly? I had an attack the other night which turned into more of a panic attack.

I feel really lousy, cant sleep because of the wheezy, crackliness when I breathe but I dont want to go to GP if he's just going to say it is part and parcel if flu and I should just deal with it.

I'd appreciate any advice.

DaisyMooSteiner Thu 11-Dec-08 13:41:32

You need to see the doctor if you're needing to take your blue inhaler more than every 4 hours (it's OK to do this, you just shouldn't need to and it can make you feel a bit shaky and wobbly)

Do you take the brown inhaler all winter? This kind is a steroid so you need to use it regularly to get the full effect from it, and it may be that when you get a virus that you need to double the dose.

You could also ask the doctor about a long-acting reliever such as Serevent and this should mean you shouldn't need to take the blue one as often. You could also ask about Seretide which is a combination of a steroid (like your brown inhaler) and a long-acting reliever. I was put on this 2 years ago and have gone from being on ventolin every day to never wheezing at all, even when I've had bad colds/chest infections.

Were you offered the flu vaccine this year? You should have been....

You definitely need to go back to the doctor now though.

AnneOfAvonlea Thu 11-Dec-08 13:49:54

thanks daisy. i have got an appt for later.

I take the brown inhaler 2x a day when I am experiencing symptoms and then for a week or so after they have cleared up.

I havent been using the blue inhaler more than 4 hourly as I didnt know you could.

And no I wasnt offered the flu vaccine this year, possiby as in the summer months my symptoms had completely cleared.

RubberDuck Thu 11-Dec-08 13:54:04

Yep definitely see the GP. I don't want to scare you, but my asthma became a lot worse for about 6 months after I had the flu. I got myself on the flu vaccination list after that and nag them from late October onwards for it grin

So it's definitely worth nipping it in the bud before it gets worse. My guess is that they'll up your preventer or switch to a different type (they switched me to Seretide which has been brilliant), check that you're using your blue inhaler effectively (you could be losing the benefit of most of the medication if not) and maybe up that dose until the preventer kicks in.

DaisyMooSteiner Thu 11-Dec-08 13:55:01

Maybe you could ask whether they have an asthma nurse at your practice who can review everything once you're feeling better and possibly come up with a strategy for the future, eg, brown inhaler all winter.

Hope you feel better soon!

RubberDuck Thu 11-Dec-08 13:57:18

The other thing to make sure you know (and I'm sure you won't need it, but just in case) is what to do if you end up with a full asthma attack (and what one feels like).

I'll reproduce it here, because I think it's really important and every asthma sufferer or parent of an asthma sufferer should know this:

"Recommended steps

The following guidelines are suitable for both children and adults and are the recommended steps to follow in an asthma attack:

1. Take your reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately
2. Sit down and ensure that any tight clothing is loosened. Do not lie down
3. If no immediate improvement during an attack, continue to take one puff of your reliever inhaler every minute for five minutes or until symptoms improve
4. If your symptoms do not improve in five minutes – or you are in doubt – call 999 or a doctor urgently
5. Continue to take one puff of your reliever inhaler every minute until help arrives

You are having an asthma attack if any of the following happen:

* Your reliever does not help symptoms
* Your symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheeze or tight chest)
* You are too breathless to speak, eat or sleep

Do not be afraid of causing a fuss, even at night. If you are admitted to hospital or an accident and emergency department because of your asthma, take details of your medicines with you.

After an emergency asthma attack:

* Make an appointment with your doctor or asthma nurse for an asthma review, within 48 hours of your attack
* You will also need another review within one or two weeks after your asthma attack to make sure your symptoms are better controlled

Do not ignore worsening symptoms

Most people find that asthma attacks are the result of gradual worsening of symptoms over a few days.

If your asthma symptoms are getting worse do not ignore them! Follow your personal asthma action plan. If symptoms continue to get worse make an urgent appointment to see your doctor or asthma nurse. Quite often, using your reliever is all that is needed to relieve your asthma symptoms when you start to have an asthma attack. At other times, symptoms are more severe and more urgent action is needed."

AdventCandleQueen Thu 11-Dec-08 13:58:28

Seretide is amazing! I'm almost never wheezy now. I'm very allergic and asthmatic.

If you've got a spacer you can take up to 10 puff of ventolin (or generic) and breath through it for a couple of minutes - recent studies have shown it's as effective as being on a nebuliser

RubberDuck Thu 11-Dec-08 13:59:32

(oh, also important to be aware that it takes 10-15 minutes for the blue inhaler to work fully, so if you feel breathless, take your inhaler and STAY SAT DOWN and rest for 10-15 mins after taking it)

AnneOfAvonlea Thu 11-Dec-08 13:59:44

Thank you so much. That is very helpful. I had a panic attack on Tuesday night when my breathing got very bad, so I know that I need to sort this out properly.

DaisyMooSteiner Thu 11-Dec-08 14:04:00

That's really interesting about the spacer being as effective as a nebuliser - not that I've needed one since having Seretide, but I will pass it on to my mum.

RubberDuck Thu 11-Dec-08 16:37:43

How did the appointment go, Anne?

AnneOfAvonlea Thu 11-Dec-08 18:06:51

Thanks for asking RubberDuck.

The Dr was really good. He did a peak flow which was not good. He didnt tell me the reading but failed to stifle a 'blimey' before getting back on track hmm. He thinks I have a chest infection as a result of the flu so has given me antibiotics. And he has given me steroid tablets - prednisolone - for a week. He said I should up the ventolin to 4-6 puffs every 4 hours and stick with the clenil too.

I then have to go back next Thursday so he can review and advise for future treatment.

He was very concerned about me being home alone. Which has concerned me a bit now

It wasnt until I was in the room with him hardly able to talk through breathlessness that I realised how bad it had got.

Thank you so much for your help and advice..

RubberDuck Thu 11-Dec-08 18:14:17

Oh good, I'm glad he took it seriously and that you're going to get a review once it's back under control. Flu is really really nasty, particularly for asthmatics - as I say it wrecked my respiratory system for months afterwards.

Remember, if you do feel rough in the night and are struggling to breathe, err on the side of getting help - don't worry about seeming silly or wasting people's time. And please reread the instructions for what to do in an attack. You hopefully won't need it once the ABs and steroid tablets kick in, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

Hope you feel MUCH better soon.

AnneOfAvonlea Thu 11-Dec-08 18:59:29

Thank you RubberDuck. I have read the instructions and have memorised the puff every minute for 5 minutes. I had no idea blush I'm going to make sure DH knows too.

He is now insisting on a flu shot each year and seeing what else we can do to prevent it - he might even do the hoovering for me

I called the asthma uk number before I went to the GP too and they helped me realise I wouldnt be wasting anyone's time. I feel quite foolish (as well as tired and emotional) as I've really underestimated the condition given it was so mild when I was diagnosed.

ThingOne Thu 11-Dec-08 22:35:27

Poor you, Anna. I'm now finally having my asthma managed properly and I'm really pleased with it. Your surgery should now invite you for your annual flu jab but don't wait until they do, call them for an appointment in September. My asthma nurse has revolutionised my medication! I too am a true seretide believer wink.

AnneOfAvonlea Fri 12-Dec-08 11:08:48

Thanks Thingone.

Racers Fri 12-Dec-08 20:17:44

Good news AnneOf... smile

AnneOfAvonlea Thu 18-Dec-08 14:26:01

Went back to GP today and peak flow had increased from 250 last week to 350 today. He thinks I am about 80% better and suggested I take the becotide 2 x daily all the time now.

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