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Now told I'm brittle, puzzled

Saw the doc today, after yesterday's episode. Wasn't my usual doc, and he told me I'm brittle. I don't even know what that means. How can he tell without doing tests?

I'm now on 1000mg a day of Clenil Modulite, Ventolin when needed, Singulair 10mg, and a short course of Prednisolone 30mg.

Still got breathless today when I walked to the village and had to turn around and come home. So frustrating.

7 Replies

Its a bit quick to be labled brittle and as a rule it is a resp consultant who will apply that lable usually after serveral admissions to hospital and based on your attack pattern over a period of time. Many places like the Royal Brompton Hospital don't use the term as they say it has been seriously over used and applied incorrectly mainly by GP's . You may well have brittle asthma but one trip to A&E is not suffucient enough to make that diagnosis, it is also quite naughty of the dr because if you google brittle asthma you are bound to find aticles that are very likely to scare you.

My advice would be forget the brittle lable carry on as you are but if you have another big attack ask for a referal to resp cons for further investigation.

Good luck and don't worry it is probably just a one off random bad attack many asthmatics get one of these out of the blue it does not mean you are going to have another one!


Hi Kitanda

I totally agree with Bex it was very naughty of your Dr to say you are brittle without proper tests and examinations I didnt get told I was brittle not until around my 15th time in hospital in a year and my 3rd time in itu you need to speak to an asthma consultant about this take care and hope you feel better soon


Hey Kitanda, dont read information on brittle asthma, just say you have asthma! That is what i am now doing. My con labelled me as brittle and i havent had a massive attack since so i am refusing to belive him, ok some may call me stupid but i am no way as bad as some people on this site, so i personally dont think i am brittle i just htink i have awkward asthma.



Hi Kitanda, you may or may not have brittle asthma but only a consultant who is an expert in severe/difficult asthma can diagnose this, your GP is not sufficiently trained to do so.

From looking at your profile there should quite a few different types of medication to try which should provide better control of your condition. There are 2 main types of brittle asthma, broadly speaking one is where sudden onset severe attacks occur while asthma appears to be controlled and the other is associated with peak flow variability, chronic symptons etc.

Brittle asthma either type is diagnosed after several severe attacks and inadequate control/response to several classes of medication. If your GP does think you have brittle asthma they should refer you to a hospital consultant to confirm it or not.

Hope that helps.



I agree with everyone else, I suffered severe sudden onset attacks for 3 years and 6 icu admissions before I even got a referal to Heartlands where they made the diagnosis, I cant see how they can make that decision based on one attack?


Hi kitanda,

Firstly please try not to worry too much about this label of brittle asthma. You said it wasn't your usual doc but one that didn't know you. Why don't you make an appointment with your usual GP to clarify things.

True brittle asthma is actually very rare, there are over 5 million asthmatics in the UK of whom only 2,000 have brittle asthma. It's a term that tends to be very over used. As others here have said a diagnosis of brittle asthma should only be made by a Respiratory consultant with an interest in difficult asthma. The centres that tend to do this are places like the Brompton (RBH) or the equally excellent Heartlands or Wyenthenshawe (NWLC).

I get repeatedly told I have brittle asthma by everyone EXCEPT the two respiratory teams I'm under (local and wyenthenshawe) I'm a doctor and I know I don't have brittle asthmA despite HDU & ITU admissions. I have moderateto severe asthma plus another underlying lung disease which causes most of the problems (Bronchiectasis).

I really hope all this random waffle on my part helps you to understand a bit more. All the best,




I thought as much

Thank you so much to everyone who took time to reply. I did google Brittle, and rather than scaring myself, it just made me realise that my asthma isn't brittle. I'm seeing my regular GP on 24th March, so will discuss things with him then.

Yes, my asthma's been a bit rubbish lately. My regular GP, who is very clued up on asthma, describes asthma steps, and tells me I started on step 1, but that I'm now on step 4, but that when my asthma is finally under control, we'll be able to step down to the lowest dose of meds needed to stay in control. I know most of you will understand this, but as it's new to me, I'm still on a quest for understanding my condition.

Anyway, I'm not panicking, and I know I'm not brittle. And feeling a little better this morning, so we're going to have a wander out to get some breakfast.

Thanks again, everyone.


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