Hello, fairly newly diagnosed, bit confused

Hi all,

I'm new to the ranks of the asthmatic, though I have probably had asthma since I was a small kid. (School nurse suggested it, my mum thought it more likely I was ""just unfit"", I lived in a London borough where asthma was over-diagnosed by school nurses).

After a cold last year turned into 8 weeks of coughing, which seemed to be a vicious cycle of coughing aggravating my chest causing more coughing I went to my GP to ask if a bronchodilator would stop the cycle, I was asked about my general symptoms (as yes, I did get very breathless after exercise, to the point of fuzzy headedness and vision blurring, and yes, I would cough and wheeze after certain vigorous activities, and yes, I was allergic to dogs, cats, pollen, dustmites, and yes, I would wake in the nigth feeling like I was choking) and the conclusion was reached that I was probably asthmatic, and the cold had triggered an exacerbation in my asthma.

I was given Beclometasone to use twice a day, and salbutamol to use four times a day until the coughing reduced.

I was tested a few weeks later by having to blow into a machine, then use salbutamol, then blow into it again, and my peak flow was very good, both before and after using the salbutamol, so the practice nurse said I probably wasn't asthmatic.

Then a couple of months ago I went back to see my GP because I am constantly tired, to the point of making stupid mistakes at work. I've been constantly tired for years now, but as I'm working it's now a real problem. I saw a different GP, and he suggested that it might be asthma related, and to get back on the beclometasone + salbutamol, twice a day.

I do feel a little less constantly sleepy, but I am still having attacks of incredible tiredness, dizziness, foggy-head. I also still have episodes of tight chest, breathlessness, pain in the muscles in my throat and around my chest - things I used to think were panic attacks (as I have a history of anxiety), but I now realise are probably asthma attacks.

Should I be pushing to see an asthma nurse? Should I be monitoring my peak flow?

Thanks all for reading to the end of this!

Robin

4 Replies

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  • Hi Robin,

    Welcome to the forum! I've had a similar experience from the sound of it and have found this is a great place - I've learned a lot (including that asthma comes in a LOT of different varieties and is often not as 'textbook' as doctors make out.

    Like I said I've had a fairly similar experience - I did have asthma diagnosed as a child, but then it went away (or I thought it had anyway). Came back after swine flu 2 years ago, then like you a cold last year set me off coughing and coughing for months - the respiratory physio I've seen said I should try to suppress it as like you say coughing does make you cough more! I wasn't diagnosed for months - partly because I also have very good peak flows and didn't respond well to the bronchodilator test. The consultant I saw said it couldn't be asthma because of this, even though I had it when younger and have several fairly classic triggers (exercise, cold air, warm humid air, coughing with certain strong-smelling flowers). Eventually got diagnosed by GP who just tried some medication that's especially good for exercise-induced asthma (montelukast/Singulair - maybe worth you asking about it given your have the exercise trigger as well).

    When I was struggling without any medication I was very tired and foggy-headed as well, which my GP said was to be expected given I was using up energy struggling to breathe. I'm a bit foggy-headed and making stupid mistakes right now in fact, though not sure if it's related to asthma or something else I have going on with dizziness which seems (for me at least) to be separate.

    I would definitely go back to your GP or asthma nurse and discuss the possibilities - it took me a while to get there but there was a huge difference when I did and finally got some medication that worked! Another thing that occurred to me (and obviously this isn't a diagnosis, as I'm not a medic and this is a forum) is that while you may very well have asthma and need medication for that, you may also be breathing badly on top of it - my GP told me that pretty much all asthmatics hyperventilate/have dysfunctional breathing at some point and especially when poorly controlled. The tightness in your throat may be linked to this - could be (again, just speculation, not expert or anything) that when you have trouble breathing you then start breathing 'badly' and make it worse? If possible maybe you could go to see a respiratory physio who can teach you better breathing techniques (I've been seeing one and think it helps a bit).

    I hope this long and rambling reply helps somewhat - feel free to PM me. But definitely go and pester your GP/asthma nurse - being persistent does pay off!

  • Hi Robin and welcome to the forum. Unfortunately asthma is variable, can be difficult to diagnose and also difficult to treat. Doing well in tests is also not unfamiliar...

    As Philomela says do persevere with the GP/asthma nurse and also monitor your peak flow. Keep a record of the peak flow (I used to do it 3 times a day) and write down any factors eg got a cold, done exercise, stuffy room, allergy - things like that. Medics find written notes very helpful and often a pattern emerges. Feeling tired, head achey, grumpy, anxious, painful chest etc goes hand in hand with asthma in my experience. It is not at all unusual - do tell GP about these symptoms.

    Try to rest as much as you can and if you have allergies consider taking an antihistamine. I use a hot water bottle to ease my painful chest, prop myself up on pillows when in bed and take extra vit C to TRY to ward off colds (colds are one of my triggers). Good luck and I hope things improve for you.

  • Just make sure that you are using your puffers with AeroChamber spacer.

  • Hi there,

    James: I'm not, I wasn't given anything other than a script for salbutamol and beclometasone. No PF meter (bought one today), no spacer. I figured if I needed a spacer, I'd have been prescribed one. (I'm an adult, my inhaler technique is OK, I'm not on vast doses of anything.)

    Philomela & Angievere, thanks for replying! It's helpful to just know I'm not barking up completely the wrong tree. I feel like I've been left floundering a bit!

    I've recently moved house, and moved out of my old GP's catchment area. I need to find a new GP - I'm hoping I'll find one that'll be helpful with this stuff.

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