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All this is so new to me

I've had very mild asthma for several years, only when I've had a cold. Generally salbutamol and a couple days beclomethasone sorts me out and it's months before I need to use either of them again.

On Friday I had what I think was a massive full on asthma attack, brought on I think by a chest infection, but the inhalers didn't work and it was really scary not being able to breathe and I didn't know how long to leave it before I called for help...live on my own and brought up not to make a fuss. Decided that if it was still bad the next day I would go see somebody but it was slightly better so went off to my iceskating lesson (still not making a fuss) where a friend (didn't know he was asthmatic) suggested I needed to be checked over sooner rather than later and I found myself talking to an emergency doctor and getting my first lot of prednisolone.

Also got a lecture on the fact that asthma can kill and never to leave it so long again.

This whole episode has really freaked me out and I'm still feeling pretty unwell. I really don't like hospitals -- I also have ME, bowel problems, PTSD, a pituitary tumour, eye/sight problems and a couple of skating related injuries and over the years I've just grown to hate hospitals and feeling that

I'm wasting their time. With asthma being bad, how do you know when you should call 999? It's so new to me and so hard to figure out how bad I need to be!!

I'm wondering whether it'd be an idea to invest in a finger pulse oximeter so there would be concrete info if I deteriorate like that again?

Oh, and do you guys wear a medicalert or something similar?

Again, not wanting to make a fuss but this has really really scared me!!

7 Replies

Hi Sarahskates,

I would take one step at a time and listen to your body and learn the signs yourself of when things are getting worse.

First of all, are you now taking your preventer everyday now? Keep taking that and make an appt with your asthma nurse or GP. They will be able to assess you and step up treatment if necessary. They will also be able to answer your questions and give you an asthma action plan. Do you also keep a peak flow?

There are loads of people on here who can give you more advice than me but as I am up early too thought I would reply to your post.

Hope you stay well.



Hi,sorry to hear your not well at the moment. the same thing happened too me last september.the 15th actually as its a day ill never forget. i suffered mild asthma since childhood,im now 45,same as you no major problems but then after a week of non stop coughing due to a bad cold i ended up at the emergancy docs where i was given a prescription for pred,as i felt better the nxt day i did not rush to get my pescription and ended up having a massive attack at 3.30 am that morn,i was using my blue inhaler but it just wouldnt work,i couldnt talk or walk so my daughter dialed 999.i was given nebs at home then taken to a&e where i spent 7 days in hosp on nebs,steroids and oxygen, like you it scared me so much. i think if your having difficulty forming a sentance without getting out of breath,or you cant walk 2 yards without having problems then ring 999,this does not allways result in an addmission,some people just need a few hours in a&e then can go home but it is better to be safe than sorry. hope your feeling better soon. im on the right meds now and touch wood have not needed any trips to a&e since. good luck.



finger pulse ox


in regard to the finger pulse ox, they are a great tool i use one quite regularly while on ambulances, however saying that i have experiences were your o2 sats may stay the same at a nice 98% and only start to drop just before they crash, it is worth speaking to either your consultant or GP and see what there thoughts are,

and a decent one would set you back a fair few quid too!

hope this was a bit of help to you.

best wishes



I would only get a Pulse oxymeter on recomendation of your doctor because with Asthma it can lul you into a false sense of security, if like me, being brittle, you maintaing OK sats until just before you go off big time. Also it doesn't give a reading of CO2 which can rise before O2 drops in some people. I go on my symptoms and get in early. Once your sats have dropped you are very unwell. I have been recomended to get a small Pulse Oxymeter, but I am going to check with my resp team.

I have home O2 so can keep them OK when waiting for 999.

However, I did worry my St John Colleagues ( a paramedic) slighly with a gradual deterioration when generally tired. Sats of 85% = blue light job.



Hi Sarah!

I agree with Kate that pulse oximeters (like many things for asthma, e.g. Home nebs/oxygen) can actually allow you to wait too long, especially as it doesn't sound as though you've had much experience of knowing what your body does in a bad attack.

There's a useful

Document that you'll be able to find on this site via the green toolbar at the top of the page that gives an idea of mild, moderate and severe attacks and how they're classified. I'm the sort of person that likes more information rather than less.

Practically speaking, I think that the most helpful thing would be to get a self-management plan from your GP or asthma nurse. This will be tailored especially for you, and can be tweaked over time. These plans are great as they take away the guesswork of should I/shouldn't I.

Take heart that things often take a while to settle after a bad attack. I describe it as my lungs being 'twitchy'. You could speak to your GP about perhaps needing a higher level of treatment until your lungs settle. This is the sort of thing that would be included in your self-management plan.

Sending hugs, Wishes


Hey guys, thank you so much for your messages and support. It's been an interesting week but I seem to be slowly improving. I'm now under a very nice asthma nurse who is keeping a close eye on me (alongside my gp) and the two of them are sorting out my meds and have made it clear that if 10 puffs of ventolin don't work then it's 999 so I'm feeling much more confident in what to do.

Going to leave the pulse oximeter to the professionals but am still interested in whether people wear an asthma medic alert bracelet?

Thanks again for your support, hope everyone's doing ok xxx


Medic-alert. I have one, but I have multiple severe allergies (including salbutamol and morphine) that I think paramedics/first responders need to know about if I'm not well enough to tell them myself. I also have a rare syndrome that complicates things from an anaesthetics point of view, for example.

I'm perfectly happy with my medic-alert bracelet, and appreciate the sense of security that I get from wearing it, but I'm not sure I'd bother if I 'just' had asthma. My reasons for this are that if I presented in hospital with difficulty in breathing, even if I couldn't tell anyone that I had asthma, the treatment I'd get would almost certainly be the same as if I told them my history. I don't like wearing bracelets very much, and don't like to draw attention to my medical history.

Having said that, I've just remembered a girl at school whose bracelet said that she was asthmatic and on long-term oral steroids, which shouldn't be stopped suddenly. That would make it very relevant!

Anyone else have a medic-alert? Have you ever found it useful in an emergency? What info do you have on the emblem itself/on the wallet card?


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