Hands up who is fed up with doctors saying 'his/her chest is clear/has no wheeze!'???Aaaarrrrgggghh!

Hello everyone,

My son, Leo has been out of hospital just over a week and yesterday started with yet another constant cough, despite being on maintenance dose preds, seretide, ventolin and deloratidine. I took him back to the doctor yesterday afternoon and even though Leo coughed constantly in the dr's room, he, as usual, claimed that Leo's chest was clear. He then went on to make several worrying comments ranging from Leo seems to be a brittle asthmatic (I think the consultant would have mentioned this if he was thinking along these lines so early on), to Leo being an 'enigma' as his chest always sounds clear!!

He read through his hospital notes and said it looked like we'd been having fun and games and I reminded him that he had said his chest was clear the day before he was admitted so maybe he doesn't have a wheeze during his attacks..and seeing as his SATS were down to 86 the day he was admitted and he was put on hourly nebs and oxygen for two days it was quite clear that he was having a full blown asthma attack.....with NO WHEEZE!!!!! AARRRRGGHHH!!!

Sorry to rant but I can hear poor Leo coughing as we speak and it is just sooo frustrating to think that we might possibly end up back on the ward tonight or tomorrow when our GP should have done something yesterday when I went in. Maybe We should all get together and ask Asthma UK to re-inform GPs practices with reminders that Asthma does not equal wheeze in all asthmatics?

I know that from now on I will be bypassing the GP altogether and going straight to the ward whenever I am concerned. There is a paediatric triage system on the ward and we have open access so I feel I can trust them so much more.

Add your own stories here if you have similar experiences and maybe we can get through to GPs somehow?

Best wishes to all,

Rebecca :)

21 Replies

  • *jumps up and down, waving hands in air* Me! I'm fed up!

    It's so frustrating isn't it?

    I hope your son gets better soon and doesn't end up back in hospital x

  • There was a long topic on this a few years ago you may find helpful to read ""General forum >

    No Wheeze in some Asthmatics"" tinyurl.com/73djmyh

  • add me to the list. when the GP (not my usual one) listened to my chest yesterday she said it was clear. i again had to tell her that i dont wheeze. she listened to what i had to say and accpeted defeat. she put me back on pred with a slower reduction, with a follow-up appointment with my usual GP as she ""didnt know what he was doing with my other medications"".

    the lack of wheeze is probably also one of the reasons that my parents (both now retired GPs) didnt realise that i was asthmatic when i was little, i only seem to cough or get tight throat/chest, and even that chest is between my shoulder blades not my ribs!

    you have a right to rant Becx, i'm so sorry to hear that you are still struggling with Leo's care via the GP. i feel for you and am sending hugs to all of you. yes i would agree since you are getting nowhere with the GP, going to the ward might be best, especially if they have a triage system which might result in you getting help for Leo that doesnt necessarily mean an admission.

    take care, i hope you all get a bit of sleep tonight xx ><>

  • That sounds frustrating!

    I'm new to this, not actually been diagnosed with asthma yet. The first doctor I saw said he ""thought"" I had mild asthma but my chest sounded clear so no chest infection.

    The second doctor listened to my chest and said it sounded clear, no wheezing. I only seem to wheeze during coughing fits. He sent me for an X-ray despite saying my chest sounded clear. Why are so many people being told they are fine when they are clearly not?

  • My daughter isnt much of a wheezer either. When she gets really bad she has a wheeze but hers is more rapid breathing and a cough. I took my daughter to docs friday morning as she was up all night coughing after being on pred tabs all week got told was no wheeze so could lower her tabs to wean her off them. Wednesday we was back and got told no wheeze even tho she couldnt walk the 5 min walk to school without bent over coughing every few steps. Just got told I could up her orange innhaler and to cut down on her blue and she been so hyper. today the walk was better but still coughing. I know everyone doesnt wheeze and surely if she been having all the problems just the week before its not right she cant walk to school without coughing.

  • Yep, another one! I hope you got somewhere with the ward Rebecca and Leo doesn't need to be admitted. So frustrating as I've had this situation for myself (oh you must be fine, it sounds great) but luckily my latest cons is very experienced and he just says it makes it a lot harder to assess what's going on but doesn't mean I'm not asthmatic!

  • Yep me to as well (for myself)

    hope the ward are helpfull and you are both ok

  • add me to the list too, I do wheeze sometimes when really bad but wheeze is not my main symptom of attack.

  • Hi becx

    I hope your son feels better soon, it really is frustrating isn't it, when just because the doctor doesn't hear anything they assume you are fine, I only occasionaly wheeze my main symptoms are coughing and short of breath, I have been to the doctors many times feeling really poorly and chesty and can sometimes hear and feel all the phlegm in my chest only for them to tell me my chest is clear.

    Usually I just ask them for antibiotics or steroids, cause I know when I have a chest infection and don't want to get worse and end up in hospital.


  • Me as well, my main symptom is that annoying cough

  • yes i can safely join you on this 1. both me and my son have had a really bad cough and no wheeze for weeks, son was actually out of school for a week as well.

  • Me too...very very rarely do I wheeze, each time I go to the doctors ""oh your chest is clear i don't see what the problem is"". Not being able to breathe under duress or strain and feeling a constant pressure on my chest and a cough that will not go is obviously insufficient! Grrr. :o(

  • My daughter's trusted and beloved GP retired. Now I am often told she has a clear chest and no wheeze, but visits to hospital asthma clinic end with her on pred.

    Have also heard 'Oh she looks fine - nice rosy cheeks', when I know this is a sign that her asthma's raging.

    It's worrying because it's much harder to get a check at the hospital and to get there physically.


  • I know how you feel because this has happened to me a little while ago. I told the doctor......I had never seen him before he was new to the practice.....I felt awful and had had a few attacks and that I felt I needed antibiotics and preds. He reluctantly agreed to give them to me. I had a full blown attack in his office and he actually said I needed help that he couldn't give but the best thing to do was to pick up my meds, go for a cuppa at a nearby cafe and take 8 preds and 1 antibiotic and see how I felt! As I was leaving the room he said that maybe if I felt the same in a hour or so I should go to A&E. All I can say is that 2 hours later I was fighting for my life after an attack described as catastrophic with respiratory failure. I am pleased to say that he left the practice very soon after that. Why don't they listen to what we say not how we sound????

  • Hi Becx, I'm a paediatrician and father who is just as frustrated at the reluctance of GPs to start asthma treatment when it would be appropriate to do so, as you are.

    I've delivered a lot of teaching with my local GPs (something of a road-show over the last few months). What I tell them is:

    1) to help identify an asthma attack there are 4 key things to look for: breathing rate and effort, heart rate, oxygen sats and peak flows; NOT necessarily wheeze

    2) to identify when to step up treatment for generally poorly controlled asthma, a good way of gauging this is the Asthma Control Test (ACT) or children's ACT. This is a straightforward questionnaire and scoring system that reliably demonstrates how bad things have been over the last 4 weeks. A score of less than 20 shows poor control that needs something to be done about it.

    This is all in the national guidance (BTS/SIGN) which all GPs should be familiar with.

    I suggest that you may gently point this out to your GP when Leo is next unwell.

    Best wishes.

  • Thanks for all of your replies so far, I think all these responses just go to show how misunderstood asthma symptoms can be, even by GPs.

    Hesham, thank you for your response, I can no go armed with this information the next time Leo sees his GP, although for now I think I am going to make the most of open access to the ward.

    Leo is doing well this week, although the seretide is playing havoc with his lips, they keep splitting in the middle and bleeding :(

    Apart from that he is fine, so fingers crossed he stays that way. He has at last finished his extended course of preds (28 days) so I guess this is the real test now.

    Wishing everyone else and their families well.

    Rebecca :)

  • I have had very similar experiences - I now have what I call my 'golden ticket' a letter written by my daughters consultant to explain that 'silent chest' is infact a symptom of her having an acute attack this was missed (despite low sats/throat tug/hunched back/daughter saying I feel dreadful and tight) at an A&E dept and she ended up 2 days later in HDU for 5 days after we were sent home.

    Its been invaluable - used it this week when she had another attack - as soon as docs say 'well she looks well, talking etc' I just give them the letter and before you can snap your fingers she was on back to back nebs and oxygen - which is what was needed - and recovered in a couple of days instead of a more lengthy stay. She actually gets a wheeze as she get better! Might be worth asking your specialist or asthma nurse about something similar if its a persistant problem for you.


    My son aged 9 yrs never wheeezes . Sometimes a rattle can be heard using stethascope but sometimes it reveals nothing at all .

    He was taken in by Ambulance 3 weeks ago when his lips went blue on me . As the ambulance arrived I shook him and he was violently sick so immediately his obs improved dramatically making me look like I had overreacted . When he got to hospital I had to basically demand a neb for him . They said his sats were high (they are as when he is sick he recovers inbetween and if they put the monitor on him during coughing it doesnt register as he is thrashing about. )

    On this occasion I only got the neb after creating a commotion (politely off course) Firstly I was informed it wasnt needed as his chest was clear (however after being admitted an hour later to the ward his chest wasnt clear ???) then I was informed that 10 puffs of his blue does the same job as a neb . Yes it does but with a coughing asthmatic 10 puffs take hours to get in as you have to remove mask to allow him to cough and throw up by which point he becomes exhausted .

    By the time the neb was put on him he was shivering and covered in goosebumps which to me indicate going into shock . 5 mins of nebs and he was already perking up.

    I made an informal complaint /observation to the hospital who were fabulous and he now has a red marker on front page of his notes indicating that Nebs should be provided even if no wheeze or low sats are detected if he looks ill and presents in other ways .

    I am happy that I know him and will always fight to get him sorted politely and so far have always won but worry about newer mums who may think the doctor knows best .

  • I had read thru the other older post re wheezing before we went to see our hospital consultant for the first time re my daughter.....he asked if she wheezed and when we answered ""no"" he told us that it wasn't asthma...i argued but he wouoldn't budge and insisted she must have a chest infection....it's so frustrating

  • Hi sorry your son been poorly x. My son dean now 10 has been in and out hosp since 6 months and we had years of 2am emergency outings to out of hours to be told no wheeze go home even after I had had to pull over on hard shoulder he was vomiting from coughing so much and multiidosing well over 10 puffs of ventolin........ However when he was about 5 I had. Appt with asthma nurse at hospital who then told me that dean Actually has

    Cough Varient Asthma with no wheeze and she wrote down all his signs first symptoms and full blown attack symptoms this info is now on his asthma plan which I have to say has silenced a few condescending doctors who before would shout at me for bringing him to hosp.

    Dean is always so tight upon starry of a viral flair up but as he gets better he then loosens and then wheezes

    All I know is that the bold letters NO WHEEZE COUGH VARIENT! Changed our life xx

  • I have just had consultant appointment for the first time since I made my informal complaint and low and behold we have the words now on his notes in great big letters COUGH VARIENT ASTHMA RARELY WHEEZES ..

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ LARGE GRIN OF I TOLD YOU MUMS SOMETIMES KNOW BEST ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You may also like...