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Do I really have asthma?


I'm not looking for a diagnosis or anything, I'm just wondering. I was told I had asthma when I was seven because I had a cough at night. I was only given a brown inhaler not a blue one but in the end my GP prescribed a blue one because my school nurse said if yopu had asthma the school needed a blue inhaler for you. I can't really remember what happened in between but by the time I was ten I was using the blue inhaler before sports and if I ever felt breathless.

My parents have always been unwilling to say that I have asthma because it has only ever been mild. I have been to hospital with quite a few attacks, but sometimes I don't wheeze, so that made me think maybe I'm wrong. I take my blue inhaler when I feel breathless, but I'm not sure anymore whether that's actually my asthma or maybe I'm just really unfit. I used to be a club swimmer though so I was used to swimming two hours a night 6 days a week. I'm just a bit confused as to how I know whether it is actually asthma or not?

I'm sorry because I expect this is really rambling and long and if there is anything I have missed out I am happy to tell you



6 Replies

Hi there Caroline,

Welcome to Asthma UK, I hope you will find us a useful source of information and support.

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.

In terms of your own symptoms, I am sure that you realise that it isn't possible for us to give you an accurate answer to your question without being able to see you and knowing more of your medical history. It sounds like you have been having symptoms for quite a while - and if you used to be a club swimmer, you were obviously not that unfit then! It is reasonably common for asthmatics not to wheeze - some may cough as their main symptom, and others may be tight and breathless without actually being wheezy. You say that your asthma has always been mild, but you refer to going to hospital with quite a few attacks - which would suggest that your asthma is not well controlled.

Do you measure your peak flows? A peak flow meter can be obtained from your GP or asthma nurse or bought from a pharmacy. You should check it three times a day, and when you have symptoms, and before and after using your blue inhaler. This information will be very valuable in answering your question of 'do I really have asthma?'

I would suggest that you make an appointment to see the asthma specialist nurse at your GP practice, if there is one, or alternatively one of the GPs. They can do a thorough review of your symptoms, inhaler use and peak flow and try to answer some of your questions. If you are just on a blue inhaler and a brown one, there is lots of potential for improving your asthma treatment, so that you can hopefully eliminate those hospital visits.

Please do feel free to ask if you have any more questions, and I do hope you find this site useful.

Take care,

Em H

(forum moderator)


Thanks for your reply, I have made an appointment to see my GP this week and I will discuss it more with her. I do use a peak flow meter and it does show that the blue inhaler helps so I guess thats a good thing.

Thank you again,



Hi again Caroline,

If you are getting a significant improvement in your peak flow after using your blue inhaler, that is strongly suggestive that you do have asthma, I'm afraid. Do make sure you take your peak flow diary along to the doctors with you. I'm sure your GP will be able to make some changes to your medication to get this under control for you.

Hope all goes well, do let us know what happens

Em H


Well I went to see my GP today and she was very helpful. Along with a prescription for all my hayfever medicines she also suggested that maybe my hormones are affecting it so I am on the pill. I've never heard of this before but if it helps I'll be very happy!

Thanks again for your help,



Hi Caroline,

I'm glad your GP appointment was helpful. There have been a couple of threads bumped up recently discussing the effects of periods on asthma, I'll re-bump them for you. There's two in 'General forum' and one in 'Medical'.

Take care

Em H


hi carol,

i generally find that not everyone with asthma wheezes, and some only do when they have a attack, as you said you take your blue inhaler before sports and when you get out breath so maybe you taken the inhaler in time before the wheezing starts, i know with my asthma i only wheeze when i'm really out of breath and at times when i lay down but asthma affects people in different ways


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