How long do I give my preventer inhaler to work?

Hi, I'm new to these forums, although not new to asthma, but have a question I hoping someone on here might know the answer to. First let me give you a little background...

...when I was a teenager I was diagnosed with mild asthma(symptoms never really more than low peak flow, shortness of breath and coughing) and initially prescribed a becotide diskhaler + ventolin, which then changed to a becotide inhaler. I used these throughout university and into my mid 20's. By this time I was not using my ventolin at all, and my doctor decided to stop my steroid inhaler. I continued to have no symptoms (although looking at it now, I was prone to coughing when it was damp, but it never occurred to me that this was my asthma), and assumed that I no longer had asthma.

About a month ago I was working with the other staff at the school where I teach, clearing out some outside storage sheds which had become a dumping ground. I began to get a tight chest, which developed to a cough with a wheeze and shortness of breath. This was a little scary, as it seemed to come completely out of the blue! I took myself well away from the sheds and, after about a hour, was feeling slightly better, although I didn't feel fully recovered for 2 or 3 days. I went to my doctor's surgery, and saw the nurse practitioner - I described what had happened, she said it was my asthma, and gave me a prescription for Salbutamol and Clenil Modulite (which is the equivalent of what I used to have), with the instruction that if I was using my blue inhaler more than once a week, then to start the steroid inhaler.

The first couple of weeks after this I used my blue inhaler a couple of times, and so started my steroid inhaler a week ago.

This last week I was away on a residential trip with my class. I had some occasions when I needed to use my blue inhaler, usually after walking back uphill from an activity in the forest to the centre we were staying at, but have also found that I was developing my wheezy cough at night, and was still tight in the morning. Friday was the worst day - we were down in the forest and spent about an hour in one place, and I did not get rid of the cough until well after we were back in the open, despite using my inhaler a few times. I assumed that it was due to a combination of the damp, and some mould/pollen spores in the atmosphere.

Yesterday I was at the Orchestra in the Field festival at Glastonbury - taking part in an afternoon of handbell ringing performances and workshops. I knew I was tired (having driven there from Kent the night before), and would be physically active, but as we went through the afternoon the cough developed again, and the shortness of breath, until at the end of the afternoon I couldn't talk in sentences, and my breathing had gone quiet. This was very scary - I have never had anything like this before. Eventually, by sitting quietly and using my inhaler over about an hour, I was able to hold conversations again, and had gone back to just having the wheezy cough whenever I did anything. I am still short of breath today, with a slight cough on exertion, but nothing else.

So - do I need to give my preventative inhaler another week to work (most websites say 7-14 days for full effect, although some websites say up to 6 weeks), or do I need to go back to my GP (or the asthma nurse - who I haven't seen yet, but the nurse practitioner said was the person to chat to about my asthma)?

Sorry for such a long post - but I'm hoping there might be some people on here with some experience of these things - this is nothing like I ever had in the past, and I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do!!!

1 Reply

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  • Hi :)

    I was told that it can vary from person to person. My asthma nurse told me at first that it can take up to six weeks for the preventer to become fully effective. However, mine still isn't working much after 11 weeks but apparentlt that's ok too. My nurse isn't great though, so maybe someone can give you better advice. I've been told to stick with it for 6 months and if it doesn't work by then to go back, but then again she thinks that I've had undiagnosed asthma all my life (I'm 18 now) so it will take a while to feel the effects!

    If you're unsure, maybe ring the AUK nurses, or ask for a phone appointment at your surgery. It will probably take longer than a week though if you've been suffering before.

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