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Stupid question: Was this an asthma attack?

I am feeling utterly out of my depth here. My 11 yo has had a recent exascerbation. She's had a five day course of 30mg of pred and is taking 2 ventolin, 4 clenil and 2 serevent morning and evening. We are also about half way through a course of amoxycillin though she's not had a chest infection the doctor thought it worth taking anyway. I suspect he didn't know what else to do!

Anyway, her peak flows are coming up back to around normal (340-ish) and she's not needing ventolin during the day now so we are seeing an improvement. But she still says her chest feels ""wrong"" and ""gunky"" so I'm guessing there is still a bit of inflammation there. Her flare up began with a cold and now she's caught a second cold so I know she's not going to be perfect:~/

However, the last 3 nights she's needed her ventolin for a tight chest within a half hour or so of getting into bed. She usually takes two puffs, it settles and we all go off to sleep. Last night the two puffs didn't work. Nor did the two after that. We went through a constant cycle of taking two or three puffs of ventolin for a tight chest. She would feel some relief and it would settle for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and then start all over again. We went on like this until about 1.30 in the morning and, in our experience so far, she can usually be quite rough in the day but fine through the night. Sometimes it would take up to five puffs to get her chest to feel ok again but it just kept tightening back up.

I know that the 'rule' is that if the ventolin isn't helping then you should call for an ambulance but this was just an uncomfortable tightness and it was relieved by the ventolin. Just never for very long. But even while it was uncomfortable for her she was still able to talk so it didn't feel that serious. Now I'm wondering whether I'd have been better to bite the bullet and call for help? Could they have done anything even if I had?

We are back at the doctors for a review on Monday but I I suspect they'll just tell us to keep going with the increased clenil and give venolin as needed.

Speaking as a mother, I feel totally out of control of the situation now. Was that an asthma attack last night? Should I have called for help? If it happens again I'm going to call 999. That much I can say with complete certainty. I'm fed up of us treading water with this and never getting anywhere.

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I've been in similar situation with my son - bad asthma at night or weekend! When in doubt, I've rung out of hours doctor and they've always been helpful. Mostly they've said they want to see him - a bit of a pain as we've then had to go to the clinic 9 miles away, but at least all the necessary equipment and meds are on hand.

If you're worried tonight or tomorrow, dont wait for review on Monday - do call out of hours service (or ambulance if she's really bad).


oooo it certainly sounds like you could do with some help if this happens again.

My little girl, who's just turned 2, had exactly the same thing happen to her last wk.

She wouldnt respond to her Ventolin for very long. We've been told to give her 8 puffs through the volumatic and see if this works. Even this had little effect. We took her to the gp the following morning and by then the wheeze had developed and her SATs were 84. She was nebbed twice in the surgery to no effect and rushed to hospital where things soon settled.

Its soooo scary when they dont settle on their Ventolin. We did exactly like you and felt that as it was in the night that we'd keep her going hourly with puffs and see how she went.

Sometimes its scary to call for help as it confirms that things are serious. We will definately call for help next time.

In the past we've had the paramedics arrive several times and each time they have said that we werent wasting their time at all and that they were glad we had called for help.

How is she now?

I agree with the fear you talk about at feeling 'out of control' and 'treading water' with all of it. I too feel the same. If only we could have some control of this awful situation. Its the sitting and wondering as to what we should do and is it going to get worse etc that my husband and I find so hard.

I hope you are all ok and that your daughter is on the mend.

Let us know how she is doing.



not a stupid question, asthma is a hell of a learning curve


ive been in your situation with our 5 yr old many times in the early days.

we have a one to one asthma nurse and open access at the hospital. i spent many times giving his puffer through out the night, sitting up thinking we will just need to turn a corner then we dont need to go to hospital.

the rule of thumb our asthma nurse gave me was give him a few puffs, if he needed more repeat, if not settle then call 999, she said it was NEVER a waste of time to dial 999 and that they would rather come and attend to a child and make sure they were ok than have a dead child. If the child is ok, hey you get a tripto hospital , machines check them out and you get to go home. if all is not well they are in the best place in case a major attack comes on.

your 11 yr old can tell you what she feels, listen to her then use your own instinct. our 5 yr old cant tell us we have to judge on our own instincts- he doesnt wheeze he is a silent brittle asthmatic-

He stopped breathing twice when he was 2 yrs old, i would rather call 999 than go through the panic that hit me when i had to wait what seemed like forever for the ambulance men even though it was only a few minutes.

Neil had a major attack in Feb this year, he got worse within 30 seconds. and spent 12 hrs on back to back nebs.

in August he appeared ok, just a bit rough for 5 nights, got stung by wasps, 999 to hospital due to swelling of face to discover that he needed 7 day course of prednisolone even though he appeared ok on the surface.

it doesnt have to be a full blown attack to get help.

Asthma is an unpredicatble condition. but the emergancy services would rather you called them and all was ok.

Trust your instincts and your daughters desciption and you will both do ok.

Hope she is feeling better now




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