Newbie here... Hello (:

Hello there!

I just stumbled across this forum and everyone here seems so supportive, lovely and helpful that I thought I'd like to join. I'm just going to write a little introduction and my story. I'm not originally from the UK so apologies for any errors and lack of obvious knowledge of the NHS!

When I was little my family moved around a lot due to my parents' jobs, including a stint in south-east Asia. It was brilliant but I often wonder if it made any underlying health issues worse! I used to get really bad chest infections, usually in the winter, which were diagnosed as asthmatic bronchitis and treated with a mix of antibiotics and ventolin. They became less and less frequent as I grew older, until they just disappeared altogther, especially after we moved back to Europe.

About 2 years ago, when we had a really cold winter, I noticed that when it was really cold, especially when I was outside, I constantly felt like I couldn't breathe or couldn't fill my lungs up all the way. My chest felt tight and it was stressing me out a lot. The GP listened to my lungs and said it sounded fine but that it was probably asthma, he prescribed me a blue (salbutamol) inhaler and sent me on my way. After some prodding at the surgery it transpired I could make an appointment with the asthma nurse, she was quite annoyed that the GP had just given me an inhaler without any guidance on how to use it, and hadn't tried anything else to diagnose me. She made me keep a peak flow chart for two weeks which showed minor fluctuations and she confirmed my diagnosis with this. I sort of.. ignored it all, because I hardly had symptoms unless it was cold or I exercised. In the past year it's gotten worse though and I've been put on clenil and my reliever's been switched to turbutaline because the salbutamol gave me really bad shakes and increased heart rate.

I've recently had a cold, been off work yesterday but back in today, unfortunately I had an asthma attack on my way in this morning. It's one of the worst I've had to date and it really shook me up a bit. I took my reliever and it's been a few hours now so I've calmed down a bit but still not feeling very happy. I'm sure it's the cold that did it but should I be going to my doctor after having such a (for my doing) severe attack?

Which brings me to my other question. I really don't like seeing my GP... He makes me feel like a hypochondriac weirdo! Some things he's done in the past have really upset me e.g. he said asthmatic bronchitis didn't exist so I couldn't have had it, even though I double-checked with my parents before the appointment and that's what they were told by medical professionals at the time; when I first had chest pains and tachycardia he laughed it off basically, luckily he still listened to my heart and said it was OK but he said I was too young to worry about heart problems. I mean, OK, I'm only 24 but it's better to be safe than sorry, right? I'd never been told that you can pull your muscles in your chest, back and arms during an attack causing scary pains. This happens to me quite a lot and it still scares me! So my second question is, how easy is it to make an appointment with another doctor? Can I just ring and ask for an appointment with anyone other than Doctor ____ or will that get me put down as even more of a problem patient? One of my friends suggested I go to A&E in the middle of an attack next time I have one so they can do proper tests and find out what is happening exactly but if I do this will this really happen or will I just be wasting their time?

Woah, sorry for such a wall of text, I guess I've been bottling up these issues for a while. Lots of thanks for everyone who's managed to read all of this!!!

9 Replies

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  • Hi Miss Prufrock and welcome!

    I think your story will probably seem quite familiar to a lot of people on here! And no worries about the length; as you'll see I can never keep things short.

    I would say firstly that yes, you do need to see someone after your attack - as you know now even if you hadn't worked it out before, colds can play havoc with asthma and you may need your preventer increasing during the cold or possibly in general, if you were using the reliever a lot even before you had the cold. This could however be the asthma nurse; she sounds good.

    To answer your second question (and this is something even British people aren't always sure about) no, you definitely do NOT have to see that GP again and I would suggest you don't as the last thing you need is someone making you feel like a hypochondriac for perfectly normal concerns. I hate it when doctors make you feel like that - ok, it wasn't serious in the end but they're the experts, that's why you consult a doctor as they are supposed to know more about this stuff than the patient in most cases! They kept checking my heart as well for exactly the same reasons and like you it turned out to be lung/meds-related, but it was a reasonable thing to check as 24-year-olds obviously can have heart issues and if they have chest pains and shortness of breath then it needs checking!

    So I would ring up and ask for an appointment with another GP - maybe have a look on the surgery website first and choose another one so you can ask for someone else by name. There might be someone who has an interest in asthma, though at my surgery I try to see the same one always because he's really good, and though he's not listed as having an interest in asthma it turns out he knows a lot about it because he's interested in sports medicine - so someone with that interest might be worth a try, since you say exercise is a trigger.

    Finally - sorry for rambling on! - I would have a look around this site if you haven't already, particularly at the bits that say what to do in an asthma attack. If you find your reliever's not helping and you're still SOB then I'd say A&E is a sensible option and you wouldn't be wasting their time at all; that's what they're there for.

    Hope this helps!

  • Hello and welcome!

    Philomela has given some good points to start from there, the only thing I'll mention is ask your asthma nurse for an asthma action plan, this will help you recognize when you need to get to a&e a bit better to start with.

    Also, definitely ask to see another gp, no one should make you feel like that! Grrrr

    X

  • Hello and welcome

    I suggest that you see another GP at the practiceor the asthma nurse for an asthma review.

  • Hello and welcome. I'm with everybody else - see a different GP! You don't have to put up with having your symptoms or medical history dismissed like that and I'm sure there are more GPs available at your surgery. Maybe it's worth asking the receptionist if any of the doctors specialises in asthma or other respiritory problems.

    Good luck.

  • Hello and Welcome like everyone else have said definately see another GP.

    I do understand where you are coming from here because in the past I have experienced something similar and I saw another GP and they were and still are fantastic support to me.

    Hope you get things sorted soon.

  • Hi again and thank you everyone for your helpful replies.

    I ended up trying to make an appointment that day at my GP's but they were full, by evening I was still feeling horrible and the SOB had come back in full force so I ended up going to A&E. It turns out that I may never have had asthma at all! They are not quite sure what is wrong with me at the moment and I'm undergoing lots of tests. It might even be my heart so I feel even angrier being dismissed like that by my GP and walking around with a possible misdiagnosis for years! The whole situtation is not fun, especially as I'd just become comfortable with the diagnosis of asthma. We'll wait and see what happens... I have to say though that it's nice not having to worry about remembering to take my inhalers which I've been told to stop with immediate effect.

    Because of the hospital visit I also had to have a follow-up appointment at the GP, luckily my usual one wasn't in that day anyway so I saw someone else who was kind and actually took the time to listen to my questions and concerns. He told me how I can officially transfer to another doctor in the practice so I've gotten the paperwork for that rolling too.

    So a big thank you to all of you once again for your advice!

  • Oh no - that doesn't sound good! I know exactly what you mean about being comfortable with/used to the diagnosis of asthma as I've only got mine recently after a few years of symptoms and back and forth and even then it's not firm. Hopefully you'll have answers much sooner though - it sounds like you've got a much better GP now which helps, and that the hospital are on the case too.

    Crossing fingers for you that it all goes well - I have to say (without of course being an expert or anything) I'm surprised they don't seem to think asthma as I always thought SOB with cold and exercise plus PF fluctuations was classic, but I guess they know other things that may have those symptoms as well and want to know exactly what it is which is good.

    Hope to see you on here still if you want advice - don't feel you have to stay away because you've been told you don't have asthma. I knocked around for ages when I was officially not asthmatic as I found the forum in general very friendly and a useful place for advice during tests etc (eg if you want to know more about any of the tests you're having someone on here has probably had them).

  • Oh no - that doesn't sound good! I know exactly what you mean about being comfortable with/used to the diagnosis of asthma as I've only got mine recently after a few years of symptoms and back and forth and even then it's not firm. Hopefully you'll have answers much sooner though - it sounds like you've got a much better GP now which helps, and that the hospital are on the case too.

    Crossing fingers for you that it all goes well - I have to say (without of course being an expert or anything) I'm surprised they don't seem to think asthma as I always thought SOB with cold and exercise plus PF fluctuations was classic, but I guess they know other things that may have those symptoms as well and want to know exactly what it is which is good.

    Hope to see you on here still if you want advice - don't feel you have to stay away because you've been told you don't have asthma. I knocked around for ages when I was officially not asthmatic as I found the forum in general very friendly and a useful place for advice during tests etc (eg if you want to know more about any of the tests you're having someone on here has probably had them).

    Thank you! It would be nice to stick around, I hadn't thought of what you said about asking about tests but that would definitely be useful. I've been off my inhalers for a few days now and the SOB hasn't gotten any better or worse though of course that doesn't necessarily mean anything. I think because I was never a 'wheezer' that's put it in doubt a lot as well.

    It's nice to know that I've got the medical people working to find out what this is now, I just hate the uncertainty! Unfortunately it looks like it will be a couple more weeks at least. My next test is a 24-hour urine collection which sounds like it's going to be a real bother!

  • Well I guess you have to wait and see (so frustrating) but Clenil never worked for me, and until I found something that did...sort of...neither did the reliever! Obviously you want them to get it right and not cling to a diagnosis if it's the wrong one, but I hope they aren't taking the lack of wheezing as definitive and are keeping an open mind - lots of people on here don't wheeze!

    Whatever it turns out to be, I hope it has a relatively easy solution - if asthma after all, then there are still lots of medications to try.

    24-hour urine collection does sound like a pain! I said that about tests because I ended up having a lot what with the diagnostic uncertainty (and have more to come...woohoo, they sound delightful) and it was really good to hear from people who'd had it. They give you leaflets but that doesn't really tell you much about what it's like in my experience.

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