Newly diagnosed and in need of advice

Hi everyone. So glad I found this website - it's been very informative and useful. I was diagnosed with asthma in the early hours of yesterday after having been rushed to hospital after suffering a severe attack which I have to say was probably the most frightening thing I've ever experienced in my life. I've been suffering from a chest infection since january and was prescribed various courses of antibiotics and steroids, none of which seemed to work. After visiting a 2nd doctor 2 weeks ago who checked my chest, he was certain I didn't have asthma and reckoned I had a windpipe infection and some other viral infection which was why the medication didn't work. I was given a blue inhaler which I was to use as and when neccessary to help assist my breathing and was instructed to return in 4 - 6 weeks if it hadn't improved.

My trip to hospital yesterday saw me on a nebuliser for 4 hours, have 2 blood tests to see if I was getting enough oxygen into my blood and a chest x ray. I was also given a large dose of steroids through an IV drip.

I'm hoping someone will be able to advise me on how I can get a decent nights' sleep while enduring constant breathlessness. My inhaler does help ease things but not for very long and I haven't had a full nights sleep in months because of it. I'm at my wits end. Because this is so new to me, I don't know what to do. I've been referred to an asthma clinic which will hopefully help sort things out but I don't expect to hear from them until sometime next week. I'd be most grateful for anyone's help or suggestions. I'm scared and just want to try make things better for myself. Thank you

4 Replies

  • Heya,

    Sorry to hear about your trip to the hospital- its never nice is it. Just to say that if you are having trouble at night it is usually worth a visit to your local friendly GP. Night time awakening is a symptom of uncontrolled asthma and they can normally help you by changing medication etc. Obviously if you are having severe difficulty and your reliever isnt working a return trip to the hospital or out of hours doctor is usually a good idea. I have always been told that it is better to seek medical attention too early rather than too late. (I'm sure someone will be along to put that much more eloquently than me later :P)

    On the sleeping front there are a few things I do to help. Most importantly I keep my room tidy and dust-free although if my mother sees me say that she will laugh. I also find that sleeping slightly propped up helps me to breathe better. If I lie flat I can never get a good nights sleep. And I take night time meds a few hours before bed but if I am still a little tight chested I find that taking my reliever before I go to bed helps me to sleep slightly better. (Although I'm not sure how medically recommended that is)

    I hope that helps a bit and I am sure that someone much more useful will be along shortly.



  • Hello Lanibob,

    Welcome to Asthma UK, I am glad you have found the site useful and informative, I hope you will find that we are a friendly bunch. I'm sorry to hear that you've just been diagnosed with asthma and that you've had such a scary experience.

    First of all, it's important to say that you shouldn't be scared by what you might read on these discussion boards. Boards like these invariably attract a disproportionate number of severe asthmatics, who may not be well controlled and may describe extreme experiences, such as severe symtoms, frequent hospital admissions and even intensive care admissions. Such experiences are absolutely not typical of asthma. The vast majority - probably 95% - of people with asthma can be almost completely controlled with minimal or no interference with their day-to-day life, once the right combination of medication is found. Asthma should be taken seriously - indeed, in the worst cases, it can be fatal - but if properly treated, it should not restrict your life.

    It is clear, though, that at the moment it is causing you quite a lot of bother and interfering with life a great deal. Wherrers is quite right to say that night-time symptoms are a sign that your asthma is far from optimally controlled - and indeed, they can be a dangerous sign. Please do go back to your GP sooner rather than later to see if there is anything that can be done to improve your control whilst you are waiting to attend the asthma clinic.

    The other tips about trying to improve your quality of sleep are also good ones. Night-time symptoms are often due to the body's own natural dip in steroid production overnight making badly controlled asthma worse; however, allergens in the bedroom can also contribute. Gastro-oesophageal reflux irritating the lungs can also cause problems overnight, which can be improved by tilting your bed so you are sleeping head up; there are also tablets that can help with reflux. It is possible to have reflux significant enough to cause asthma-like problems without having the typical symptoms of heartburn and indigestion (so called 'silent' reflux).

    It takes time to discover all your triggers and the treatment that works for you, and the first few weeks after diagnosis can be extremely difficult - there is a great deal to get accustomed to. However, there is every reason to be optimistic that you will get full control over the condition, with the help of your GP and the asthma clinic. There is no reason to think that, because you have had one nasty attack, that your asthma will be particularly difficult to control or troublesome. I am sure that in a few months time things will seem a lot more straight-forward and less worrisome. It is a steep learning curve but you will get there in the end!

    Take care

    Em H

  • A few hours after I sent my first post, I was hospitalised after discovering I was in the middle of a severe asthma attack. Although it was the most terrifying experience I've ever had, and I was told that I was very seriously ill, the doctors were amazing and took the best care of me. When asthma is all very new to you it can be a very traumatic experience but the care I received was first class and I was reassured at all times. They explained everything that was happening and I now have my asthma under control and feeling much better with things. I got home from hospital yesterday and now just taking things easy. I just wanted to say thank you for the advice I've been given. I'll certainly keep referring to this website!!

  • newly diagnosed

    hi sorry to hear of ur traumatic experience and yes its frightening. Ive just started with it 3 wks ago and had 1 attack luckily my inhaler worked. My mum is 87 and had asthma since she wos 30 and i have seen her in sum terrible attacks when i wos younger but we have cum on over the years with medicines and they can control it far more better now. U would not know my mum has asthma cos she is controlled. Ive just started a tablet singulair which worked great overnight and i felt a new woman but unfortunately i have had side effects and on my way back to the asthma nurse. Try to keep calm and positive thats wot iam doing cos it will just make u feel worst being stessed. I work with a few people that have ashtma and i did not even know they had it and i work with chemicals. So good luck and let us know how u go on.

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