Asthma UK community forum

Life changing decision to be made because of my asthma

Hi everyone,

I am glad to have found this forum.

I have never suffered asthma in my life until 2 months ago when I experienced my first asthma attack. Terrifying when you don't know what's happening to you.

My work has taken me to Cairo, Egypt in March this year. The pollution in the city is extreme to say the least and I started to feel breathless about a month into my arrival in the country. 3 month later, I was on my way to the airport to fly back to London to see my doctor when I collapsed at the airport due to a severe asthma attack.

I eventually flew home and have since been diagnosed with asthma brought on by air pollutants. It took about 7 weeks to bring my symptoms under control. I have good days and bad days and went through the whole cycle of discovering how to live with asthma.

I feel better than I did 2 months ago but a part of me is still terrified of going through this again. I am due back to Cairo to resume my work and my doctor thinks I can try to return and see how things go.

I love my job but I am also scared to return to such a polluted environment and for my asthma to deteriorate again. If I don't go back though, this means giving up my career....

I am really lost and don't know what to do. My mother is asthmatic and thinks it is insane to return to the place that triggered it partner thinks that health comes first. I do agree but wonder if this is not a bit of an over-reaction? Then on the bad days, when my breathing is difficult I think that maybe they are right.

Some opinions would be so helpful...I am due to book my flight back to Egypt this week end...



5 Replies

Hi Foxtrotte,

Welcome to the forum - hope you find it useful, it's a great place to find answers/support.

Sorry to hear about your asthma and that you're having to deal with such a difficult decision. I can see both POVs and understand it's a horrible choice to have to make. Don't know if I can add anything useful, but just a couple of thoughts:

-How long will you be in Cairo for if you do go back? Months? Years? Your health is important and I agree with your family that you shouldn't jeopardise it but if it was a month or two then that might be a different story from say a year or longer?

-You haven't said what you do and may not want to, but is not going to Cairo a definite bad thing for your career? Is there any chance you would be able to explain things to someone at work (your boss?) and possibly get a posting somewhere that is less polluted, or are you absolutely needed in Cairo and nowhere else?

-If you do go back, will it be difficult for you to keep working because of the pollution? Not something you want to hear I can appreciate, but if you're going to spend a lot of time off sick anyway if you do go back that may be worth considering.

Hope this is in some way helpful - you have my sympathy if nothing else! Horrible when it gets in the way of important things. xx


Welcome to the forum foxtrotte ! All i can say is get as much help from your doc with meds and action plan to help you.If you go you can always come back so might be worth a try and make sure you have a doc over there .↲Good luck it what ever you decide to do xxx


Hi Philomena, many thanks for taking the time to read my post and the warm welcome to this fab forum...

Well I am due to go back for another 5 months which right now feels looong. I absolutely need to be in Egypt and nowhere else right now. There are no alternatives for now. Not going back pretty much means the end.

I am really not sure what would happen when/if I get back. I remember the last few days being pretty tough going at work. I spend my day interviewing people for my job and that very last day at work, I could barely mutter a word. I find it hard to believe that my preventor alone will be enough to keep attacks at bay in a place like Cairo when I keep getting them here in London. I was on oral steroids for one month. I am also forced to spend 4 to 6hours a day in heavy traffic which really won't help. I also have a very very stressful job - I also started getting heart palpitations in Cairo - which I am sure does nothing for the asthma...

So all of this does not build a 'pretty-lungs' picture....I take your views on board though and I will think about that too...

Thank you so much.


HI again,

Ouch...yes, not a good situation. I did think it probably was the case but thought I'd ask just in case - sometimes in this sort of thing you can get so wound up in a difficult decision it can take someone else to point out other options (if that makes sense and doesn't sound patronising or anything).

Would your doctor here - or in Cairo if they're more used to this problem - be able to put you on more meds just for Cairo, to combat the pollution - stuff you only need over there? I don't know if you're on the highest you can be here but just wondering if something extra could be added, or if your doctor has any ideas about this.

Re the heart palpitations - that could actually be related to the asthma. I get them too sometimes, was slightly worried but my GP told me my heart would get a bit fast and palpitate a bit if I was struggling to breathe.

Really hope you find some answers! xx


Hope you have been able to come to a decision, its a difficult choice. I was in this position in 2007 and decieded to carry on with my job as I was at a point when I could not leave my job due to commitments and the type of contract I had. Both my GP and consultant wanted me to change jobs.

I finished earlier this year but to the detriment of my health I have gone from being severe to brittle asthmatic (occupation related), developed aspergillosis and more allergies. Even after giving lungs a break they have not improved and looks like the damage will be permanent. I cannot now do the job I have spent the last 6 years training for... My advice is think very carefully about your options and consider the long term implications that it may have for your health.


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