Asthma UK community forum

brittle asthma

Hi I am just looking for some advice please.

I am 39 years old and have been asthmatic for all my life with respite in my teenage years. But over the last ten years I have been getting progressively worse.

I have been extremely unwell over the last few days and my gp gave me steroids and antibiotics, which fortunately are doing the job well as always. I went back to see him today who very kindly told me that I was still very wheezy and bubbly and what to do if exacerbation etc, which is fine, but that he would also like to see me again in a couple of weeks to discuss our winter care plan as he believes that my asthma is now brittle.

I like to know what I should expect and what I should be asking for etc.

My medication at the moment is symbicort 400 turbohaler 2 am 2 pm and bricanyl turbohaler prn.

From my looking on the internet some things say that medications and brittle asthma are irrelevant as they sometimes don't help, so does this mean that the symbicort could be unnecessary? Are there better inhalers that turbohalers that I should ask to try, I went on these as couldn't guarentee that the generic ones were actually working as many times went to use one and it was faulty.

Any help and advice would be appreciated. Thank you - sorry for waffling on a bit!

4 Replies

Only a specialist centre like the Royal Brompton in London, Southampton or Heartlands Birmingham can diagnose Brittle Asthma and wish GPs would stop banding at Asthma sufferers like yourself with this term, until they know for sure. Even if you do have the condition there is much still to be tried before being labelled and with what you are taking at the moment it sounds like there is plenty of room for improvement on the meds front. Even if you are diagnosed with Brittle Asthma you would still continue to use inhalers of one sort or another and Symbicort 400/12 can be prescribed at much higher doses I take 400/12 3 puffs twice a day!

The internet can be useful, but also deceiving all Brittle Asthmatics vary, so don't take it all as fact. What works for one might not work for another, and it is common for us to have extended periods of good health as well as poor health.

Brittle Asthma is not a death sentence just an adjustment in living practices, so before your GP bogs you down with a diagnosis just remember he is just that a General Practitioner, he/she only has a general knowledge and will not understand all the complexities, seek a more specialised opinion and good luck.


Hello and welcome kaz4570. First of all, I generally say have a good look around the website and forum in particular the information under 'All about asthma' along the green bar at the top and leaflets can be ordered in 'How we can help > Publications'. Also, the search function is useful to find previous posts and forum users in similar situations - worth looking around as you may find answers to questions without posting.

Did your GP explain why they said you may have brittle asthma? As Katina has said, this would be investigated usually at a specialist hospital unit. Many people may have asthma but sometimes other conditions such as reflux, sinusitis and so on can be exacerbating chest symptoms. There certainly is plenty of scope with medication from your symbicort and bricanyl. When looking at information on the internet, please try to use reliable sites (in the UK may be better as medications etc vary by country) such as this and or NHS choices.


Hello Guys i think that the issue with Brittle Asthma is that nothing activates it, there are no safety measures you can take its just one of those techniques that occur when it happens its not a allergy etc I'm hesitant there isn't much you can do.Thanks!!


I agree with Katina, and in my opinion your GP really shouldn't be telling you that your asthma is 'brittle'. The brittle diagnosis is one which many consultants don't like to use, and prefer terms like steroid dependant or severe. It is also one that can only be used after numerous tests and investigations have been carried out, and generally after standard treatments have failed.

From what you have said there is much room for your GP to change your medications or add things on which may help. The general consensus of thought is that if the GP feels those medications are not working they should be seeking a second opinion, by contacting/referring to a specialist. If you are not happy, and your GP seams to be hitting a wall ask him to do that.

You really must take all your medications as prescribed. I am on various medications for asthma, some of which are very expensive and experimental, but the basis for all treatment is steroid inhalers like yours - and when you find the right type and dose they are very very effective.


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