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Is this asthma? Throat and chest tight

Hi, this is likely to be a long one, but I'd be grateful for any thoughts as I'm quite confused! Not looking for medical advice per se, but any thoughts would be gratefully received.

I'm 28, have been asthmatic pretty much all my life. Went back on inhalers in my early 20s and since then it's been very well managed - I'm very lucky, no time off work, a puff of reliever would sort every feeling of tightness/shortness of breath/wheeze etc, I could get away with being lax about the inhalers at certain times of year.

At the start of June I caught a dry cough. My throat felt irritated from the coughing but I wasn't having any symptoms that I associate with asthma so I didn't up my inhalers like I would with a chesty cough/chest infection.

I was away on holidays when on the last afternoon I took a nap, I was feeling fine and lightly dozing when I woke up all of a sudden unable to breathe - it was like my throat (I think rather than my chest? It's all a bit of a blur) was closed. Saliva was running from my mouth, I could gulp air into my stomach and burp it back up but it felt like nothing was going to my lungs. Then I vomitted a load of phlegm off my lungs (TMI I know, sorry) and started to feel a bit better. Within minutes I was fine other than feeling a bit scared and very very tired.

I went to my GP when I got back 2 days later, he prescribed pred, 20mg a day for 7 days and changed my inhalers to salamol (2 puffs 4 times a day for now) and Qvar (2 puffs twice a day for now).

The next day I picked up a cold and my asthma went way downhill for a while, I had to sleep sitting up, couldn't get full sentences out etc. Not much wheezing but very short of breath, tight, feelings of pressure/weight on my chest. Stayed off work for a couple of days and ended up back at the doctor who upped the pred to 30mg for 3 days and 15mg for 3 days. He also prescribed an antibiotic as I was starting a chest infection, this did work and it cleared up in no time.

Since then I've been slowly recovering, but I'm getting frustrated now. I ended up on 5 days of 40mg of pred over the weekend just gone, and I'm now cutting down the dose over about 10 days. I'm taking lots of reliever still, but I think the symptoms in my chest are easing and I'm feeling the tightness more in my throat now.

The GP and out of hours doc both said that they thought the problem was in my trachea/windpipe as I'm extremely hoarse (which is a problem in itself) but have no wheeze, peak flow is fine etc. Has anyone had this? While my chest is definitely feeling better now, it was definitely bad for a few weeks there.

Basically, I'm confused and keep changing my mind about whether the problem is asthma related or not.

Also, my dad has just started on a very similar path (woke up unable to breathe) and his asthma is much worse than mine, so it would be nice to get myself sorted in order to maybe give him some ideas to bring to his GP (who is lovely but a bit useless).

4 Replies

Hi stokes,

As so much of what you are describing os in your throat, you might want to ask your gp about something called vocal cord dysfunction.

I'm currently being checked for this and what you describe kind of fits.



Your learning Angelica!

VCD can be triggered by a virus such as the cold you had and your showing classic signs of VCD the hoarse voice and the tight throat... I would speack to GP about it and might be worth seeing ENT/Speech therapy but in the mean time try to suppress the cough... with throat is tight go fff then sss or chew or suck a sweet.

However teh waking up at nigth your Dad sufferes doesn't fit with VCD so more likely to be an asthma issue that is being triggered by reflux


Thanks Angelica and Bird.

Well, the doctor had me on 6 puffs of salamol 4 times a day last weekend and then the asthma nurse suggested taking two puffs at a time as often as I needed it, which sounded like a better bet to me.

Once I cut down on the inhalers my throat eased a lot, so I think shooting so much stuff down there wasn't helping! Makes sense I suppose. It felt quite raw which I suppose 6 puffs will do. Am coming back around to think the problems are mainly in my chest. I think!

Tried to cut the salamol back to 2 puffs 4 times a day on Thursday, but it didn't work, I was very short of breath at times, couldn't get my words out easily. Then I woke up yesterday feeling like my throat was closed, couldn't breathe etc. It eased with a drink though. Took a puff of salamol but my chest actually felt fine so I left it at that. Ended up taking 17 puffs of salamol yesterday in all :( Probably could've tried without one set of 2, but we were going out for dinner and I didn't want to have to take it in the diner.

Still feeling quite tight now, even though I took 2 puffs about 20 mins ago. But it's very humid today though which never helps me. Sigh. And I'm back to 10mg of pred from today!

Don't know what to be doing. Doesn't seem much point in going back to the GP, get the impression he and the nurse are a bit sick of me what with no wheeze, decent peak flow etc. Guess I'll finish the pred and give it a few days and see how I am.


Sounds to me like a mix of asthma and vocal coRd dysfunction. I'd push for a specialist referral. I have both, theyes can diagnose vcd with tests.


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