Fitbit - friend or foe?!: Hello! I've... - Asthma Community ...

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Fitbit - friend or foe?!

porthos06 profile image


I've had an asthma flare-up over the past week - my first one in *ages* and also the first one since I started wearing a fitbit.

As a result, I can see that I'm getting excerise minutes just from sitting still or doing something really basic like brushing my teeth or standing up for more than a minute. I usually need to be doing at least a brisk walk for it to accept that I'm exercising!

I can also see that my resting heart rate has gone up from 60bpm to 66bpm over the week, and how my sleep pattern's been affected.

This is all really interesting but also pretty alarming, especially when I'm getting exercise minutes from sitting down. I've found myself obsessing over the data, combined with a consistently lower PF (72%) and I think it's just making me panic more!

Do we think it's a good thing to be constantly aware of things like heart rate and sleep quality? Should I mention it at my review or will I just sound like a hypochondriac?!

Thanks in advance :)

15 Replies

I have a similar watch which I was obsesed with checkig everything, it was not long before the obsession stopped and I would check it only when I feel that I needed to know what results I had achieved, The same applied to my oxymeter which was provided and was taught how to use and read and when to contact the emergency services. The other thing is it is only like a Sat Nav it is only a guide and possibly not recording all of your excersises.

porthos06 profile image
porthos06 in reply to Wheesy

Thanks for the reply 🙂

Glad to know I'm not alone with the obsessive Fitbit-ing! I like the SatNav analogy too - makes a lot of sense.

I had the opposite problem - I couldn’t understand why my Fitbit thought I was getting so much sleep, until I discovered it had me taking a long nap every day before lunch. I was reading the paper - definitely awake, but sitting peacefully, just turning pages… So, they’re not exactly infallible, just an indicator 😊

Thanks for the reply 🙂

I love this! I had exactly the same thing this Christmas - a random 90 minutes deep sleep when I knew I'd been awake! Turns out, it was while I was watching the Alistair Sim version of Scrooge - such a comforting old family favourite that my pulse had dropped down to sleeping rate 🤣

Nice that it was so relaxing. You wouldn't have thought reading the paper would have that effect these days, there's not that much comfort in there 🤔

That's interesting. I wondered how on earth my garmin watch thought I had had 12 hours sleep one day when I new that I had nothing like that much. Then I realised that I had taken it off entirely for a few hours to give my wrist a rest and because it wasn't plugged in and still on my desk it thought I was asleep !

Personally, I would stick to your asthma plan to track your flare up, taking increased action as necessary. Anything that is increasing your anxiety, which is far from helpful, can be put to one side until you're ready/fully recovered from your flare up. Any tool, such as a peak flow, is only good if you know how to respond to the results - increasing your meds or seeking medical intervention when your stats indicate you need help.

It may be useful to discuss how to use your fitbit positively during a flare up with your asthma nurse at your next review and build it into your asthma plan. It may be that you can approach the fitbit results during a flare up with more certainty once you know how to use them to track your asthma rather than your fitness, if that's a possibility. But definitely be clear how it made you anxious - that's a useful thing for your asthma nurse to know.

I hope your flare up responds to treatment soon and you feel better ASAP.

porthos06 profile image
porthos06 in reply to Poobah

Thanks for the reply 🙂

Unfortunately, I don't have an asthma plan 😕 I've never been offered one so never felt able to ask since I've had asthma all my life and never been hospitalised since I was 2. I think everyone just assumes I know what I'm doing, when I really don't!

Your points are really good though - I just need to find an asthma nurse I feel comfortable talking to 😬

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to porthos06

So how have you treated your flare up over the last week - Increased preventer inhaler and Ventolin? If that hasn't worked after 48 hours it's time to talk with a doctor for additional treatment. You can call the 111 service if you think you would benefit from starting Prednisolone over the weekend or getting treatment advice and then make an appointment to see a GP on Monday (don't let the receptionist put you off, as asthma can deteriorate quickly if left unchecked).

When you see the GP you can say that you also want an asthma plan. I rarely have flare ups and don't have attacks, but I still have an asthma plan and emergency antibiotics and Prednisolone at home as it cuts out unnecessary delays in starting treatment early on.

Getting fit is a great idea and will definitely help, but don't go back to that until you're fully recovered. In the meantime, everything in moderation. And while you wait for a review with your asthma nurse, you can talk to the Asthma UK nurses about how to use your fitbit more positively in respect of your asthma and what they think about it possibly being part of an asthma plan (they'll have a better idea of that possibility or if it's better to rely on other tools during a flare up).

All the best.

porthos06 profile image
porthos06 in reply to Poobah

Thanks so much for the supportive reply 😊

I'm on a MART inhaler so have increased doses of that, but also a couple of times have had to use a blue too, as the Symbicort is weirdly hard to breathe in!

Had a disastrous review this afternoon (my rant is here!, and got some advice which I'm not sure of the legitimacy of about when to take my emergency steroids.

What a nightmare 😱

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to porthos06

It's difficult when you feel poorly to make decisions on what to do. That review doesn't sound like it helped you enough. Maybe you aren't confident in what you were told?

My asthma plan, and I stress It's personalised so not sure what other plans are like, advises I start emergency Prednisolone once my increased preventer inhaler hasn't improved my peak flow and symptoms after 48 hours. I increase my preventer inhaler if my peak flow drops by 20%. The idea is not to let things slide into the red zone (for me that would be 60% of my PF best), so starting Prednisolone prevents the slide if the increased preventer hasn't helped improve things in the given time.

I wouldn't hesitate to use the 111 service over the weekend to discuss your asthma and whether you should start your Prednisolone. If you know your peak flow for the week and that increasing your Symbicort hasn't improved your symptoms yet, then getting the go ahead from a doctor will put your mind at ease that you're doing the right thing by starting Prednisolone.

After that, you can ask for another asthma review as you aren't happy with current advice to wait for your PF to drop to 50% before taking additional treatment. Any plan should be an agreement between the asthma professional and the patient...the patient should be confident that the plan fits with their experiences and expectations. One size doesn't fit all.

Hopefully others will comment on their plan experiences.

porthos06 profile image
porthos06 in reply to Poobah

Thank you for another helpful reply 😀

I had a racing heartbeat and breathlessness all weekend so in the end did call 111 and had an out-of-hours appointment yesterday. Result was that I was told to stay at home all week, which very much goes against the grain as a teacher but I was properly told so I am being obedient 😂

I would really like an asthma plan - I think I'm going to have to pluck up the courage to ask for one. I'm not sure it's something my surgery does as a rule.

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to porthos06

Have a chat with the Asthma UK nurses about a plan - they are super helpful.

I have an Apple Watch and walk two miles a day. I listen to podcasts and take phone calls with it when I’m walking. It has a wonderful sleep app too. Why would I not want to wear it ?😀

porthos06 profile image
porthos06 in reply to Sal678

I love my Fitbit too - just has become a bit of an obsession over the past week! 😂

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