Asthma UK community forum

Bad asthma / Clear chest???

Hi my daughter who is 12 - today!! Has had problems with her asthma all week she has had asthma since she was 3 - never with an audible wheeze but docs could usually hear crackles on her chest. The last couple of times she has had problems she is obviously struggling - breathing is deep she needs a lot of ventolin, short of breath,coughing etc and is given steroids but on the last 3 occasions the docs have said her chest is clear??? Does anyone know why this is? Why can't they hear anything? It is now so difficult to assess her as she never complains, ""looks ok"" (!!!) and doesn't wheeze, I feel a bit like they think she is making it up! Can this happen with a clear chest? She says her chest is tight, she can't get air in or out and feels like she has ""stuff"" in her throat. She is currently on 600mcg seretide, ceterizine, singulair and beconase daily. Any advice /experience of this would be much appreciated!!

11 Replies

Hi my Son who is 10 has never wheezed and it's taken 9 years to diagnose asthma, he is now classed as severe and difficult, brittle asthma type 2. Basically he has periods when peak flow is fantastic but can have severe life threatening attacks without warning and needing vast amounts of meds to make him well again. He has scoliosis because his asthma was uncontrolled for so long. I have just been diagnosed with brittle asthma too and rarely wheeze. I am now on double nebulisers 4 hourly as luckily the dr understands our family history, I was told chest lovely and clear. I dont find oral steroids help me at all, the same as my Son but I know this is unusual. My peak flow is near normal too but my Sons can be really high but will have a severe attack the same day. I check my Sons chest, if its pulling to one side, it means he's using his diaphragm to breath with and thats bad news. I also show the doc this, I know it's not so easy with a 12 year old girl.Good luck and be prepared to argue with the medical professionals, your going to need to as it's not common.Remember you know your child best, I have often stamped my feet and shouted at doctors, it has saved my Sons life, they always apologize later.

Good luck, I was always mild mannered but not any more!



If you listen to my chest I have no crackling and, when my asthma was at its worst, no wheezing at all. I have had operations and surgeons have listened to my chest only to tell me that I have no asthma.

I have asthma.

There is a BIG misconception about asthma that you have to be breathless and wheezing, and the Dcos can hear things in the chest, for it to be asthma. Sadly, a percentage of Docs think this way also.

If you read the gurus on asthma they will state that some people can have virtually no symptoms other than their chests are incredibly tight and they can't walk 5 yards or, perhaps, they have toruble talking. They don't wheeze, they don't crackle, their chests sound clear.

For example, at my worst, I could talk fine and walk around the house but walking 100 yards was impossible - during this time the Docs could hear nothing wrong with my chest, I had no wheezing and I was not breathless but the muscles around my airways were so constricted, (my lungs, chest and back were painfully sore), I could not get enough 'air' for everyday tasks.

It is a little known fact that some people suffer ashtma in this way. Apparently, so I have read, some can have airways inflamed, and muscles around those airways so tight, that you are really ill but the body somehow manages to keep just enough air moving through the airways in order to keep you alive and not much more.

When I was put on steroids, and they began to kick in, I bizarrely went through the wheezing process, and sometimes still do, as my airways begun to open up enough to actually wheeze - yes, I know it sounds nuts but there you go.

So please, please, please, do not fall into the mistake of believing you have to have the full list of asthma symptoms checked off for your daughter - I didn't but I can assure you that I have asthma. The only way, other than here, is doing a lot of research and reading about asthma.

One last thing - I am not a Doctor - I have posted on here before that I do not like seretide as, personally, I find that the combination of the steroid preventer and the long-term 12 hour broncodilator in one puff is not a good way to control MY asthma. I find that the broncodilator component of seretide is, if I have 2 puffs a day for even just 1 or 2 days, too much for me and I become dangerously breathless from hyperventilation.

I personally believe that some people are taking too much of the broncodilators and that this you is causing silent hyperventilation which results in, um, breathlessness and very tight chests. By having the steroid and broncodilator separately you can, I believe, better control your asthma by taking the steroids regularly and the broncodilator as and when needed. I find one puff of the broncodilator can last me 24 hours is not 48 hours or even 72 but 2 puffs a day and I am so breathless and have such a tight chest from hyperventilating that I cannot get up the stairs.

Hence why I asked my Doctor to move me away from seretide and allow me to have the components of seretide, flixotide (the steroid preventer) and servent (the long-term broncodilator) in two separate turbohalers and, believe me, my life changed in leaps and bounds for the positive once this happened.

Of course, we are all different.

Hope this helps. I am not a Doctor but just someone who has been through the misery of not having the 'classic' asthma symptoms and both myself and my GP wondering for some time whether it was indeed asthma. I hope your daughter improves.

Oh, and as I am telling everyone, please google the recent research by the National Jewish Centre in Denver - America's top lung hospital - that found a massive improvement in severe asthmatics who were given high doses of Vitamin D3, especially amongst children. Perhaps have a read of some of the posts I have posted here on the subject.



i think doctors need to be careful when they wait for a huge signal from a patient that its asthma, i used to stick to one gp within my surgery and for years i kept going back saying its this symptoms or another and they kept doubting its asthma for a while until i had a massive attack and then they gave me a low dose inhaler and everytime i went back i got hayfever medications and not treated as an asthmatic everytime i went and complained about my asthma.

eventually i got frustruated and didnt go back to any other doctor for a long while until a epic flare up - i did have stuffy chest so stuffy it increased my blood pressure! you can have a clear chest and asthma.

she could do with a switch of the antihistamines, your gp could give one that is a better anti inflamatory.


I have never had a wheeze, but I know within myself now when I have a problem. My chest can sound clear to the doc, but I can feel it and have the tight/breathless symptoms and reduced peak flows. The only explanation I can get is that the infection is in parts of the lung where the air isn't moving hence no sound.

Were all different and the combination inhaler Seretide is brilliant, really does work well. I now got the two separate inhalers and contrary to Bobs post, I find that the Long acting Beta2 Agonists to be the pit prop my lungs need, and am reducing the inhaled corticosteroids. LABA's keep the airways open for 12 hours as a rule, not much more and are preferred over the repeated use of reliever inhalers like Ventolin. Inhaled corticosteroids are to treat and prevent the inflamation within the airways. You could as for the Seretide to be changed to symbicort and see if that helps.


hi tinaw,if you type in the search box, no weeze,you will see howmany people on here who dont weeze with asthma and see what they have wrote ,good reading for you.lots of love Glynis xxxx


hi Tinaw,if you type in the search box, no weeze,you will see howmany people on here who dont weeze with asthma and see what they have wrote ,good reading for you.lots of love Glynis xxxx


TinaW I have been having the same issue. I have been having issues with my asthma for 6 months and resently doctor has said my chest clear even though my peak-flow shows signs of terrible asthma. It was that bad last week that I ended up in A&E they treated me and I was told that even though they heard a clear chest it is obvious that the asthma was giving me hassle and still put me on a neb. Apparently it is not uncommon for someone to have an attack and have a clear chest as they are getting enough air in and out of the lungs. And the attack is a result of the tiny hairs being aggrovated. Sounds like your daughter is the same. Hope her asthma starts improving soon. Oh and also must add my son's asthma is also down again and doctor says chest is clear and has refused to do anything even though his peak-flow is also down


I rarely wheeze - and like many others have difficulty getting medical staff to appreciate this!! So much so, my GP has suggested getting a mediband and having on it ""asthmatic - no wheezing!""

Be careful - my last attack had no wheeze at all, especially when I started to crash. It's not a failsafe check.


The new national strategy for COPd with an asthma chapter has a sentence in that says not all asthmatics wheeze, if you put national strategy in search box, you can print out a copy and wave it under the GP's nose.

Not needed to try it yet, but that is why it is in there to stop medical professionals saying no wheeze no asthma.

I know for me personally at the moment my voice is nearly gone and that due to breathlessness and that is how i know to up my medication and slow down to encourage my asthma to settle down, but i am not wheezing!



This is a major problem for us, I have had many battles and I too have been made to feel like I am making things up. I was turned away from my usually fantastic casualty department last year, my face was like a balloon and I'd had a number of nasty asthma attacks with intermittent wheezing, it wasn't calming. I was told to go home and try piriton, which thankfully eased things. (10 months earlier I'd been nebulised twice for a much less acute attack and staff only let me go home as I live 10 mins from hospital )

The doctor I saw also told me my symbicort Smart routine was wrong advice and I needed to take this up with my doctors ASAP! (I was later advised by specialists his opinion was nonsense).

When I told my specialist about this she was concerned and said I'd been very lucky the piriton worked, she also said when asthma flares up acutely it is very common not to hear a wheeze. She advised if this happens again to be insistent I am admitted, but it's not that easy to be insistent when you're in a state. It is also worrying that staff on casualty wards are not up to date and familiar with current asthma medication and treatment. Yes, I've also had the 'You look OK to me', my asthma can be very unstable so not bad all time.

My worry is someone is going to lose their life because of this!


I have the same problem with the doctors, they say i'm all clear, although, were i get chest infections so often i always have flem caught in my throat which usually gives me a wheeze, might be the 'stuff' caught in your daughters throat. I usually have ALL the syptoms of asthma so when i felt my inhaler wasn't working, they thought it must be something else, but because they left and pretty much ignored it i ended up being rushed to hospital by ambulance, and because she's 12 (like me) they don't always believe you, which really frustrates me.

hope it all sorts out soon ;)

Megg x


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