Adult Onset Asthma!! after Chest Infection and Flu Vaccine Reaction

I have very recently developed asthma, I am 36.

I used to get severe bronchitis when I was a teenager, had my tonsils reoved and then was quite well until 2 years ago when i strated getting severe chest infection again. Just over a year ago I developed allergic rhinitis which I get very badly over the winter months.

I went to see an ENT specialist last Autum who prescribed asthma inhalers and advised that I use them whenever I got a cold or chest infection. I got a head cold and used them got better and then two days after Christmas I got a bad chest infection. The blue inhaler worked a lot to relieve tightness and mucus. The chest infection lasted 3 weeks and at the end I still had a tight chest left over.

I then had the swine flu jab and had some very bad side effects such as muscle weakness, very tight chest and bronchial spasms.

I started off taking clenil modulite and salamol, I did not respond well to the high alcohol content in the clenil so then changed to seretide and ventolin accuhalers. I found I was getting quite shaky and also noticed that I would have a reaction when combining the two where my asthma would get worse. I also suffer from anaphylaxis to certain chemicals and drugs so can respond with worsening symptoms if the inhaler aggravates my immune system. So now I am on Symbicort which has been fine, until yesterday when I took some Clenil Modulite with it on the bad instruction of my GP. I woke at 1am with full chest spasms and totally unable to breathe. I finally managed to get it under control with the blue inhaler, an anti-histamine and a brown paper bag!! As I am new to all this I was not sure I could call the ambulance or not. I've now spoke to Asthma UK who say that I can and should and so I will!!

Anyway 3 weeks down the line and it is now clear that the chest infection and the flu jab side affects have totally exacerbated what was very mild asthma which I only ever got with chest infections or with severe rhinitis - into something that is so bad I have not been able to work for 3 weeks!!

I have private health insurance but am still shocked by how little support there is and generally I am at home having to cope with very frightening symptoms by myself.

I called my specialist this morning who is a bit frustrated with me because I am not a straight forward case and keep panicking. I even asked if he could put me in hospital so I can be observed so I am not home alone terrified all the time. He said no, everyone had private insurance and there are no beds and there are so many severe chest infections and swine flu cases still around that the hospital is full!!! So I felt unable to go to hospital because then I might pick up an infection and then be really serious!

I cannot believe there is no dedicated asthma centre where I can get proper full assessment and training about how to take care of myself!

So now the plan is to have a CT Scan for my sinuses next week which are really aggravting my asthma and to continue on Symbicort and then perhaps steroids if I have to - although the mental health side affects are very unappealing!! I am very sad to have another illness (apart form my anaphylaxis) where there is so little help and support available!!

2 Replies

  • Hi

    Sorry to hear you are having a bad time.

    I have have adult onset asthma and would have had a very difficult time finding ways of coping with it if it was not for the Asthma UK nurses and being able to use the forum.

    I have been to a respiratory physiotherapist who has taught me how to do breathing exercises, which are basically breathing in for a steady count of 3 and out for 4, whilst using my stomach, if you wish to look this up, google diaphraphm breathing. I find this stops most/if not all of any hyperventilation, as the attacks can be scary when you start out, in fact even know when I get a bad attack I still get scared but mostly after the event, it that makes sense.

    Unfortunately, I would like to say that after about 5 years of having the asthma, I can control it and have a completely normal life, but the answer is no. I have been discharged from one consultant and on to the Royal Brompton, to look at any underlying causes as I also have rhnitus.

    It you find that the blue inhaler is not working for you and you are in difficulties, don't be frightened to call an ambulance, because at least in my area (Essex) they are really nice and sort me out with the nebuliser, many times at home, but there have been a few epsiodes in A & E.

    I hope you feel better soon, and if you get perscribed a short course of Predisnol don't worry too much, but don't do what I have done when first perscribed them, e.g. if they say 6 tablets a day, check with your pharmist, but with me I have to take them at one go and make sure you have some food before taking them as they will possibly make you feel sick.

    Hope that this helps.


  • Thanks for your response - it is really helpful to get support. I am a little concerned as I am not responding too well to the inhalers. The dilatory inhalers seem too strong and seem to over dilate my lungs which is equally scary. In fact I think using the inhalers has made my asthma worse but I am stuck in a catch 22 where I need to resolve the chest inflammation. I woke again last night at 1am unable to breathe with total lung spasms and find that anti histamines seem to help.

    In fact the really bad lung spasms are more like my anaphylaxis and so when I am having them I am really confused as to whether I am halving an anaphylactic attack or an asthma attack - I am so confused. Nothing about this whole experience has been straight forward and I almost feel that I am having to self diagnose and work out my medication and symptoms myself. I have to shout really loud for my specialist to take me seriously.

    Anyway I am off to my specialist tomorrow - I may also go and see another specialist as this one does not seem that interested in me and finds the fact that I am not a straight forward case annoying. I think I need someone who can be a bit more patient and intuitive with me rather than just giving me drugs.

    My rhinitis is definitely aggravating everything and I even found that my nostrils are having spasms.

    This has gone on for over 5 weeks now and I am really tired and have lots of extremely low moments where I feel I cannot go on - I am horrified that this may now be a regular illness that I have to contend with as well as My anaphylaxis.

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