Help! Recently diagnosed as an adult and don't have a clue about asthma!

Hi guys,

I ended up in A&E last weekend, suffering from my first ever asthma attack at the ripe old age of 29.

I still feel terrible! My doctor has given me a hefty dose of steroids to take (in pill form), and I also now have two new inhalers. I've had about 14 hours sleep in the last week. I can't rest at night because I have to cough every 2 minutes to clear my lungs and the steroids are keeping me awake. My throat is red raw.

I have so many questions! Will this be a regular occurrence for me from now on, or will the medication stop things getting this serious again? How do I work out what triggers my asthma? Do things like steam cleaners or air purifiers help? Where should I go to get more help and advice? Are there any good books or websites you recommend?

Thanks for any advice!

9 Replies

  • Hi Lucy

    You're already on the best website there is - have a good look through the info on the site - I don't think you'll find a better more informative site on the web!

    I only developed asthma as an adult too, and its a lot to take on board at first, but don't panic - just keep asking questions on here and somebody will answer you.

    There is no knowing whether you will have regular attacks at this stage - you need to see if the meds you have been prescribed sort things out - you might need more of different meds or you might find everything settles down and you don't need much at all.

    Have you seen you GP since the A&E trip? if not, book an appointment to follow up - they will probably want you to have regular follow ups with the asthma nurse as well. This will give you a chance to ask questions too....

    The best way to understand your symptoms, triggers etc is to keep a diary and note how you feel, what meds you take etc - your GP or asthma nurse may also suggest you record peak flows and prescribe a peak flow meter for you to do this. If you have other conditions such as hayfever etc then it is probably that pollens will feature in your list of triggers.

    Initially I wouldn't rush out to buy steam cleaners or air purifiers - you could end up spending a lot of money that you don't need to - once you understand your triggers you'll be able decide what is worthwhile and what is not.

    In terms of the steroids keeping you aware - when are you taking them? Usually it should be first thing in the morning, but I have heard of people setting alarms to tkae them earlier than that so they can get to sleep easier. I usually take them 1st thing, and as have been taking them for months now, generally don't find they affect my sleep - I'm usually so tired at the end of the day that I crash and sleep through anything.

    Hope you start to feel better soon.


  • Hi Lucy,

    Just wanted to say welcome to the site and sorry to hear that you've developed asthma. You have found a great and very supportive community here who will do their best to answer most of your queries.

    Having said that I don't think there is much more to add to what Kat has said below at present - have a read around the site, there is loads of great info here. It is always a shock at first to get a diagnosis of asthma, especially if your health has always been good in the past, but things will hopefully get easier for you over the next few weeks as you get used to it and hopefully find a combination of meds that works for you.

    One thing that it is worth saying - a site like this naturally attracts those with difficult to control asthma to a disproportionate degree - most well controlled asthmatics simply don't feel the need to post on a site like this (not that they can't or shouldn't, if they want to!). This means that some of the stuff you read on these discussion boards might seem very extreme and scary - you might hear talk of brittle asthma, Intensive Care admissions, subcutaneous syringe driver treatment and so on. It's important to remember that those of us who have to undergo these sorts of things make up a very small minority of asthmatics who are disproportionally represented here. 95 - 97% of asthmatics, once they have found a combination of drugs which suits them, can be well controlled with little or no restriction on their lifestyle or work - and it is highly likely that you will be one of those. It might take a little time and adjusting of meds, but things will get better. So please don't let yourself be scared or put off by anything you read on here - and if there is anything you don't understand - please ask!

    'Camping' in the General Forum is our general chit-chat and socialising thread, so do feel free to jump over there and introduce yourself when you get the chance - we are a friendly if slightly bonkers bunch when you get to know us!

    Take care, and hope you are feeling better soon,

    Em H

  • I know its not easy and it may be a bit obvious but when you go to sleep do you lie down? Try and sleep propped up, that way you may not need to clear your lungs so frequently and you should get a better sleep.

  • hi lucy and welcome

    just to second what Cath said about sleeping propped up - i've got a ""v"" pillow form mothercare - think its supposed to be a nursing pillor, but is quite big and comfy to aid propped up sleeping. think you can also get smaller ones from argos and places like that - well worth investing in.

    good luck, and feel free to ask away with any questions that you ahve!

  • Hiyah! Well, I can't give any advice, but I'm 35 and I was diagnosed with asthma a week last Thursday!

    I've been using the inhalers 9 days now, and noticing small improvements. Sleeping a little better too.

    It was a shock to me as well, but I just wanted to say hi, and you are not alone.

    I bought a peak flow meter from Boots for £12 - but you can get them on prescription. I found a blank peak flow diary on the internet and have been filling it in morning and evening, so I can see how I'm doing in figures as well as judging how I feel.

    Well - we're on a journey here - but there's alot of advice and help out there for us, this website and the British Lung Foundation too. I sent off for free information pamphlets from both sites. Also I emailed the asthma nurse here, and received a quicky and super reply.

    Hope this helps :) Estelle

  • Hi sorry to here that you have developed asthma,

    One piece of advise i will offer is propping your self up on loads of cushions which is what i always do when my asthma is bad .

    Also make sure that you go back to your doctors for an asthma check and try and find out if your surgery has an asthma clinic or asthma nurse I found them so much more helpfuly than my GP.

    Lots of luck xxxxxxxxxx

  • Hi Lucy.

    Welcome to the madhouse! I'm sorry about your diagnosis. We all know how you feel and hopefully can offer some advice you may find helpful. I agree with what everyone else here but I'd have to say that everyone's asthma is different and at such an early stage it's impossible to say what your triggers are but you will learn this as time goes on and you'll be amazed how quickly you'll adapt.

    For the best advice I would recommend this site for the publications available through the post and make an appointment with your GP or Asthma nurse asap for a chat about what happens next. Finding which medications are available and what will suit you best are half the battle and although it can take some time to settle down once you get this right you'll be much better. Until you know what kind of Asthma you have it's hard to say if you will continue to have serious attacks in the future. I know that sounds scary but getting to know your Asthma is the best thing and unfortunately that takes time - the important thing though is that you WILL start to feel better.

    Steroids are horrible and we're all old friends with the dreaded prednisolone here! You do get used to it but for many people courses are few and far between. The night time cough should improve when your medication kicks in and I would thoroughly recommend you invest in some comfy cushions or a V shaped one as suggested already as they can mean the difference between sleeping and not. I wouldn't part with mine for a million quid now.

    Also, if you haven't already, get a peak flow meter and diary (your GP or asthma nurse will help you there and Asthma UK right here will send you a diary if you request one) and start keeping a record as this will help you with your triggers etc. It really does help.

    Please come back and talk to us if you need any more help or if you just want to talk or have a moan, we all do it from time to time and everyone is welcome. It's quite an adjustment and it takes time to get used to it.

    Take care. Hope I've been helpful in some way.

    Fluffy. xxx

  • Me too!

    I have had a persistent cough, particularly when exercising, for over a year, but because I am fit, no-one took much notice. Then I started to clear my throat constantly, especially after laughing. My PF was around 450, probably because I was fit, therefore no immediate asthma pointers. However, through this site, I contacted the asthma nurse and she confirmed that I do have asthma, just not the obvious wheezing kind.

    I am now on 2 puffs morning and night of the brown inhaler and blue if necessary. I do find I am now worse, but hoping this is because all my 'tubes' are having a clearout. Every morning and most evenings I cough for ages until my throat is really sore.

    I too am flabbergasted, my husband is bemused and convinced it must be something else.

    As I write this, I am exhausted from the coughing fit I had when I woke up this morning. I also have a headache. I am sure that I will get worse before I get better, but the GP doesn't want to see me again until I've done this regime for 6 weeks.

    My triggers seem to be a/c and laughing, I haven't identified any others yet.

    We'll all learn together,


  • Hi Lucy

    I could be reading about myself! I was admitted to hospital and stayed there for a week with sudden onset asthma. It was & still is a shock to the system. This is my first visit to this site and I was so pleased to see your post - most of my questions have been answered already.

    Good luck


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