Asthma but no wheeze


I had a bit of a scary experience yesteday with my asthma (I'm alright now) and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts.

I had an attack in chemistry at school which ended up with the ambulance being called and me ending up in A&E. I wasn't given salbutamol nebs as I'd already had well over 10 puffs but was given oxygen, saline nebs, IV hydrocortisone and IV piriton (I think that's what it was). The thing is, although my sats on air were low when the paramedics arrived, my only symptom was an uncontrollable cough that meant i couldn't get a full breath and I had a sore/ tight chest, but when the doctor listened to my chest it was completely clear. She said she hadn't seen an asthmatic who didn't have a wheeze/ had a clear chest. I had an ABG done once things had settled which came back as saying I'd been hyperventilating very slighty but they thought that was from the cough. I was allowed home with pred but I'm worried now that I was wasting their time because my chest was clear.

Does anyone know if it's possible to have an attack or even asthma with a clear chest? I've never wheezed and my chest is usually clear, all I ever seem to do is get uncontrolled coughing and tightness and I have real trouble getting people to believe me.

I have an appointment with my GP being made, but I guess I just wondered if anyone had any ideas.



10 Replies

  • My asthma is exactly the same i never wheeze just cough and cough and tightness and short of breath! I often feel like i am wasthing peoples time. sorry no answers, just i get the same!

  • I very rarely wheeze Becca. I think I've wheezed maybe once in an attack. Like you I tend to cough more, and get very short of breath. My GP says asthma can vary from person to person, and that if you don't wheeze, it doesn't mean you don't have asthma.


    Vicky xx

  • Hi Becca,

    Firstly you will never waste anyone's time when it comes to asthma. Even in very very mild cases it's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry.

    In adults and children, asthma attacks with no wheeze is not certainly not unheard of. It's not as common but it certainly happens so dont worry.

    Have you had a fair few exacerbations recently or is this a one off. Glad to hear your home and try to get some rest!

  • My main symptom is an uncontrollable cough, and producing tonnes of mucus. I saw the doc today half an hour after a severe attack, but felt like a fraud, cos in the waiting room I felt absolutely normal, and pointed this out to my GP.

    However he assured me that this is the nature of asthma, and indeed my chest was clear. I don't often wheeze either, just get chest tightness.

  • I've never had a wheeze for my asthma, just a tight chest, cough and breathlessness. The doc can listen to my cheat and it will be clear and quiet, and yet I can have a sensation like someone really heavy sitting on my chest.

    If in any doubt, ALWAYS see the GP, or dial 999 if you'r in trouble. better to be alive then take a chance thinking it's nothing.

  • Thank you for the all replies. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who gets this as I was quite worried that I'd overeacted and should have stopped the school calling for help, but this puts my mind at rest a bit.

    Gavin- I have had attacks like this in the past but never quite this bad, but I hadn't had one for a while. My school are sorting things out with my mum to get a care plan in place so hopefully it might make things a bit clearer if it were to happen again.

    Thank you for all the replies

    Becca x

  • from my own experience when I had a bad attack I had no wheeze and ended up in ITU the casualty dr explained that my ches was so tight a wheeze could not be heard so if this ever happens again do no hesitate do the 9s asap xxxxx

  • Hi, I hardly ever have a wheeze - cough, shortness of breath and tightness are my main symptoms.

    I've had a consultant in A&E send me home saying I didn't have asthma as I wasn't wheezing and it's so difficult sometimes to explain. I now have a letter from my GP explaining symptoms/history and I think the hospital know me now anyway :s

  • I also have asthma attacks without a wheeze Becca, so you are not alone. I get really shallow and quiet.

    You know we really should ask asthma uk to get some publicity out there about this, as being turned away from A & E is no joke. I have been told a few times I am not having asthma attacks because of a lack of a wheeze... hello!!

    What do you reckon?

  • no wheeze

    I was only diagnosed with asthma about 0ne year ago, after returning from a holiday in Peru. I have never wheezed, but get coughing fits every few days. i cough until I bring up clear mucous. My throat is sore, and I quite often have a headache by that time! I have twice been prescribed steroids for a 5 days each time, and once antibiotics also. I often go through days of constantly needing to clear my throat, as opposed to actually coughing properly. I find this annoying and embarrassing, but console myself that at least I am not breathless!

    I have wondered if the altitude in Peru started things off, and whether I should avoid high places?

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