Newbie - Please Help

Hiya all

Just found this forum and i'm after some desperatley needed advice......

I was diagnosed with asthma at age 4 and suffered badly through childhood and well into teens. Since then i suffer in the winter and usually end up on steroids following a bad cold or chest. I take Seretide 250mg inhaylor, ventolin as and when and 4x phylocontin tabs per day (amanophalin). My asthma is relatively well controlled but in January i started feeling breathless all day every day and it hasnt stopped. My G.P has tried increasing/changing medication and i have tried everything from singular to Montelukast as a add on. I have had a spirometry test, chest xray, blood tests ecg and currently awaiting an echo but all have so far come back normal. During these perios my peakflow has remained roughly the same. My question is...do you thing this is asthma or something else? Its a very real symptom and lately i have felt very tight/sore chested when i wake and ventolin doesnt relieve it that much? We have looked into the possiblilty of anxiety and celeaic disease but again these have been ruled out. I am at my wits end as My G.p has run out of ideas and the respiratory consultant i am now seeing is so booked up that my next apt could be 6 months away!

Any advice or info would be greatly rec'd.

Chloe xxx

1 Reply

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  • Hi Chloe,

    Welcome to Asthma UK, I hope you'll find us a good source of information and support. I'm sorry to hear that you've been struggling so much recently.

    Firstly, just a brief word that we say to all newbies - please don't be worried or frightened by anything that you might read on here. Boards such as this one tend to attract the small minority of severe asthmatics in disproportionate numbers. You may read accounts of poor control, frequent hospital admissions, and even Intensive Care admissions despite maximal medication. This is not the norm for asthma. Asthma is potentially serious - indeed, it can be fatal in the worst cases - but for the vast majority of people it can be almost completely controlled, with little or no interferance with day-to-day life, once the right combination of treatment is found.

    Clearly, though, you are struggling quite a bit at the moment. I'm afraid it is very difficult - impossible really - to answer your main question without being able to see you and knowing more of your history and test results. It may be asthma that is causing you to feel more breathless, although the fact that your peak flow is okay and it's not really responding to salbutamol perhaps argue against it. There are many other causes of breathlessness, as I am sure you are aware, and it's impossible really to say what is going on.

    There are a few things that can contribute to poor control of asthma despite medication. Gastro-oesophageal reflux (acid refluxing up from the stomach into the gullet) can irritate the lungs and cause asthma symptoms - it's possible to have so-called 'silent' reflux that can do this without causing the usual symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. There are various tests for this, but they are quite invasive, and it's often more usual to try treatment with an acid-suppressing medication (a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) - lansoprazole, omeprazole and similar) to see if that makes any difference.

    Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is another condition which can be confused with asthma or can co-exist with asthma, making symptoms worse. It is caused by abnormal movement of the vocal cords causing narrowing of the airway, and produces similar symptoms to asthma, in particular shortness of breath, hoarseness and/or wheezing and tightness in the chest or throat. It doesn't respond well to normal asthma medications. Diagnosis is made based on symptoms and sometimes on spirometry or direct examination of the vocal cords with a small scope. The most commonly used treatment is specific physiotherapy or therapy from a speech and language therapist to try to correct the abnormal vocal cord movement.

    From the tests that you describe, it does sound like your GP is being very thorough and proactive in trying to find out what's going on with you. I know it must be extremely frustrating not to get any answers, and I'm sorry that I can't be more specific about what the problem is. It may be that you will have to wait until you can see the respiratory consultant before you really get to the bottom of things. Can you ask your GP to write and see if the appointment can be brought forward at all?

    Hope you get some answers soon, do let us know how you get on.

    Take care

    Em H

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