Asthma UK community forum

Only prescribed one inhaler


I've only been recently diagnosed with asthma as I cough rather than wheeze. My doctor has only given me a preventive inhaler, not a reliver.

I was wondering if anyone else's doctor had done this?

Mostly I'm ok and don't struggle to breathe too much, but I'm currently suffering with a cold and find it harder to cope.

Any advice would be appreciated!


7 Replies

Welcome to the Forum, Beccles!

I guess someone else here will be able to give you a better advice, but I came to think that maybe your doctor thought you didn't need a reliever as your asthma is so mild. I haven't heard though that first would be described only the preventive inhaler - but I know they do sometimes give you first only the reliever... Still I think that if you feel you would need the reliever, that is, your symptoms are nasty/persistent enough, maybe you could simply ask for one..?

Have a nice Spring!



Hi Beccles,

Welcome to Asthma UK; I hope you will find us a friendly and supportive bunch. I'm sorry to hear that you've recently been diagnosed with asthma. Sometimes when you are newly diagnosed it can take a while to find the most suitable treatment for you, but the vast majority (95 -97%) of asthmatics can be almost completely controlled with little or no interference in their day-to-day lives once they are on the right treatment.

You are right that it is not usual to prescribe a preventer only in newly diagnosed asthma. In this country, asthma is usually treated according to the British Thoracic Society step-wise guidelines ( - copy and paste into your browser and then delete any spaces the forum software has added).

Most newly diagnosed asthmatics would be started on Step 1, which would be use of a reliever inhaler such as salbutamol (Ventolin) when needed for breathlessness, cough or wheeze. If someone was having persistent symptoms even with the use of salbutamol, Step 2 would be the addition of a preventer inhaler - this would usually be a steroid inhaler such as beclomethasone, budesonide or fluticasone. Occasionally, if someone were having severe symptoms at diagnosis, they might be started on Step 2 on both a reliever and a preventer, but it would not be usual to start with just a preventer.

As you are no doubt aware, a preventer inhaler will do nothing to relieve acute episodes of shortness of breath, cough or wheeze. If you are having episodes like this, please do go back to your doctor and discuss whether a reliever inhaler would be appropriate.

Hope this helps

Em H


Thank you for the warm welcome and the advice.

I'll have to contact my doctor again.


Only prescribed a preventor

I have only just been diagnosed with Asthma and although the new Dr at my surgery is so much nicer than the one I had before. I came away knowing nothing about my condition. I didn't even go to the doctors because I was struggling to breath, I just thought I was unfit and had an allergy to dogs, but it came up and she told me it was asthma. All I really know about asthma is that it makes it hard for people to breath and they take an inhaler.

I came on this website to find out more infomation about the condition and am suprised at how servere it can get. My Dr didn't test anything about my breathing for a diagnosis or anything. just asked me what causes it. I've been prescribed a clenil preventer only, not a relievler and as I find it very difficult and painful to breath when I'm cycling which I like to do often and around animals which can't always be prevented, I'm a little worried to ride my bike and to over-excert myself incase I have an attack I don't have a reliever inhaler.

I have had 'episodes' in the past where Ive hyperventilated and found it difficult to breath. When I was youger I suffered from severe panic attacks and although what I experience now is nothing like a panic attack anymore, because I couldnt explain what it was I passed it off as one. I'm now wondering if these are actually asthma attcks. I never considered they could be because I wasn't doing any form of excercise and I thought you could only have an attack through doing excercise. now I've learned differently I dont know what to think of it anymore and I'm worried that my asthma might actually be more severe than my Dr thinks. (I haven't told her about these 'episodes' because of thinking they were just panic attacks.

It's also difficult for me to get to my Dr's because I don't want to change Dr's but I live a long way from home during term time because I'm at uni. If I went to a NHS drop-in centre, could they help me? or would I need to go to a Dr's surgery?

Appreciate any help!


I also happen to go to uni a long way from my drs- I am the only person who phones to speak to my GP from 100 miles away :P

Basically if I need to see a dr during term time (or I phone my dr and get told I need chest listened to) I just register as a temporary resident at the uni health centre/ or one nearby. If you go along and see them and explain what you have explained to us they will probably be able to help you until you can get back to see your own dr back at home.

Hope I have been of some help.




Hi Claire,

Welcome to Asthma UK, I hope you find us a good source of support. I'm sorry to hear that you've recently been diagnosed with asthma, I know you must feel like there is a lot to take in at the moment.

Firstly, please do not be frightened by what you read on these boards. By the nature of this forum, it tends to attract people who are severely affected in disproportionate numbers - in fact, people at the severe end of the spectrum, with uncontrolled asthma, make up a tiny proportion of asthmatics. The vast majority (95 - 97%) of asthmatics can be completely or nearly completely controlled, with minimal or no effect on their day-to-day life, once the right combination of medication is found. The sort of accounts that you might read on here, of poor control, multiple medications, hospital and intensive care admissions, and so on, really are not typical of what asthma is to most people. Asthma should be taken seriously - in the worst cases, it can be fatal - but once it is treated it should not stop you leading a normal life.

Asthma is a clinical diagnosis, which means that it is commonly diagnosed, as yours has been, based on your symptoms and examination findings. Often, no additional tests are necessary, especially if you respond to asthma medication. Further tests are usually only done if there is doubt about the diagnosis or you are not responding to treatment in the way that would be expected.

Everyone with asthma is different, and it can be a steep learning curve while you learn what triggers your asthma. You are right to say that exercise can be a big trigger for a lot of people. Allergies are another potential trigger - to everything from dust mites, to animals, to foods. Cold air, cigarette smoke, perfume, traffic fumes, and certain chemicals can all trigger attacks in some people. Attacks may occur out of the blue with no apparent trigger, too.

It can take a while to find the correct treatment for you. There are many different treatments for asthma, ranging from different inhaled steroids to tablet treatments. Because asthma is such an individual condition, there is no one treatment that suits everyone, so your GP may experiment with various things in the first few months until they find something that helps. Some people are well controlled with a relatively low dose of a steroid inhaler, and others need additional treatments.

Without knowing more detail and being able to see you, it is impossible to say whether these attacks that you are describing are related to asthma, panic, or a combination of the two. It is very common, when having an asthma attack, for there to be an element of panic too, so the two can often be interlinked. You do need to go back to your GP and explain about these episodes - as you say, it may be that she/he didn't appreciate that you were having these sorts of attacks. She/he may well want to try a reliever inhaler to see if it helps.

Wherrers is right to say that you just need to register as a temporary resident in order to see a GP in your university town - just put your 'home' (parents') address as your permanent address and your uni address as your temporary one. You should be able to get the same sort of care as a temporary resident as you would if you registered there.

The goal of asthma treatment is that you should be free of symptoms and able to do whatever you want to without restrictions - this goal can be achieved in the vast majority. If your asthma is not controlled, please do go back to your GP and ask for further treatment.

Hope this helps; please do ask if you have any other questions,

Take care

Em H


Thank you both very much for your replies, they were very useful and helped put my mind at ease about my Dr's decision. I do trust her as out of the both of us shes the one with the medical degree, but I know that sometimes small things can be overlooked and as I've had periods where I've found it difficult to breath, It was worrying because I havnt told her about them... I will take your advice and register with a temporary Dr and finally explain things to them.



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