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Unpredictable Asthma

I know we all struggle with the different language different doctors and consultants use to describe various degrees of asthma severity/type, particularly as these are not applied consistently and mean different things depending upon who you talk to.

I've had a new label - severe unpredictable - applied to my asthma today and wondered if anyone could tell me what it means/why it is used? It's written into my protocol for the hospital (if I ave to go to A&E) from my consultant. I will ask him when I see him in a fortnight, I'm just curious.

5 Replies

unpredictable asthma

Make sure you do ask what's meant by the term,'unpredictable asthma.' They are writing about you so you need to know.



Hey Ratty,

I agree with Gill, you really need to get it clarified by your consultant what he/she means by 'Unpredictable Asthma' this could mean any number of things depending on the consultant, for example (and I am by no means applying this to your case) it may mean Brittle Asthma Type 2 (severe acute short onset asthma attacks on a background of well controlled asthma with very little warning). Unpredictable Asthma seems to imply that there is little or no warning of asthma flaring up/acute exacerbations but as we don't know your medical history it could mean anything.

Hope this is clarified for you soon.

Take care, simi x


Thanks for the replies here and PMs. Sorry I haven't got round to responding individually. Simi, what you have written makes sense with my background and the rest of what is written - my consultant has even written about a background of good control, high peakflows etc, but then also about acute exacerbations.

Perhaps this is another area where guidance/consistency across the medical profession is needed because then people (including medical staff treating patients) are possibly likely to be clearer about what they are dealing with. People who know me and know my asthma are great with me but other people see someone who most of the time looks 'fine' and it can therefore be difficult to be taken seriously.


Hi Ratty,

Not sure if you could have Brittle asthma or not, but this is a very good article on it in the BMJ. You do need to register an username and password to read it, but it's free.



Hi Ratty

I reckon take off the unpredictable first. Severe asthma well you already knew that didnt you?

I think unpredictable will just be a warning to medical staff that they may think you are getting better when suddenly out of the blue you get much worst. (not really for you, as you know)

I have often been told my asthma is unpredictable and never does what you would expect, ie one minute i would seem very ill and the next totally back to normal and other times i would not seem too bad but within a few minutes i would be extremely ill. When consultants put words together take them apart and assess them seperately that is always what i try and do and i like you struggle with communication.



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