Hello - new here and looking for advice! - Asthma UK communi...

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Hello - new here and looking for advice!

Hi everyone :)

So basically I found this forum having been depserately searching for asthma help on the web, and everyone seemed so friendly I thought I would join! I have had asthma for about 5 years now and it's been getting worse pretty much every year, but always easily controlled by a change in medication. I was on symbicort + reliever for the past two years and have felt fine, but this past month has been a bit of a nightmare!

I have just started music college and I play oboe (a wind instrument), and I've been learning a new breath technique for that which I think has triggered my asthma. I had a severe attack about a month ago (my friend had to call me an ambulance...ended up in hospital for only the third time in my life!) and since then I've been wheezing and coughing a lot through the day! Went back to my GP two weeks ago who put me on Fostair instead of Symbicort to see if that helped, and if it doesn't she thinks I'll need to see a chest specialist. I've not got any better - in fact wheezing and coughing through the day has got worse and I can't even walk to my kitchen now without really struggling and getting really bad chest pain! I'm basically fed up of not being able to go anywhere or do anything - I've had to defer one of my exams for college cos I can't play at the moment. My next appointment with the asthma nurse isn't for another two weeks - I don't know if I should wait that long or try and see the GP before then?

Sorry for the massive post, I just would really like some advice!

Thanks for taking the time to read! :)

15 Replies

Hi :) Welcome :)

You've come to the right place, everyone here is so friendly and it's great to be able to talk to people who understand.

Sorry that your asthma has been getting worse. Definately don't put it off if you need to see someone (though that's kind of hypocritical of me to say!). I've read on another tread that other people have been using fostair and have become worse than usual. Maybe it's not the right inhaler for you. If you can't walk far though go and see your gp again, they may be able to help and to stop you feeling down. Moaning on this site usually helps a lot though!

I've never seen a specialist and I have only been diagnosed about a year (though I've probably always had it) so I can't offer much in the way of advice, sorry :(

Maybe give the AUK nurses a ring? They're really good when you need someone to talk to!

Hope you start feeling better soon :)

Rachel :)



I've been on Symbicort using the SMART regime since about June this year. All was OK until I got a couple of colds. Asthma has gone masively downhill since then.

I was on Seretide before Symbicort and had very similar problems in that I can't manage exacerbations brought on by viral infections.

Had lots of steroids in November, am on a second course of antibiotics, started theophylline and doubled inhaled steroids; some improvement but not as good as I'd expected.

I'd recommend that Asthma UK nurses; they are brilliant, phoned them a few times and their knowledge really is second to none!

Sounds like we both need some work to optimise things.

Good luck


Hello musicgeek,

I wouldn't wait two weeks to see the nurse if I were you, in that state. Get a Gp appointment as soon as possible, and get some proper assessment. I would ask to see a consultant as well: You have a right to, you know. It can't do any harm to get a bit more input can it? It may well be that learning a new breath technique for your music has knocked the balance off kelter, but even if that's it, the situation seems to be continuing so you need some advice. The asthma uk nurses really help me to cope at times when I am ill. In fact, I can't imagine how I would mangage without them there. Good luck. Sandy


Hello and welcome to the forum,

Like the others have said already you really do need to make an appointment to see your GP.

Hope things improve for you soon.


Hiya, and welcome, everyone's lovely here and as others have said its a great place for a bit of a moan when you're feeling really rubbish! I used to play flute, and a bit of clarinet, my lungs finally gave up on that about two years ago, and i'm a long way from getting back to it, but woodwind instruments do really help your breath control, so playing when you're well will really help your asthma and hopefully put you in a stronger position to bounce back from this episode! keep in mind when you see GPs and consultants and nurses that by playing woodwind your peak flow will probably be much higher than predicted, and much less responsive to changes in your asthma symptoms, mention this to them, it'll help them understand why your feeling rubbish but peak flow 'looks' good.

Also, don't be too worried, its really stressful when your asthma is out of control, especially for you as you need your lungs for your course, but the weather has suddenly become much colder, and this is a killer for asthma, i know a lot of people are feeling it, but i reckon our lungs will get used to ir soon. also, there are plenty of different medications left for you to try. I assume when you were in the hospital they will have put you on a short course of oral steriods (pred) did this help? if your still feeling rubbish this might be something your GP will consider (another short course) just to help your lungs out a bit. or a different inhaler to fostair (i believe seretide is a similar type of inhaler?) and make sure your college know whats going on, i've found uni to be really great, theyve really helped me out, ive been in and out of hospital since the start of term, and theyve arranged extensions, meetings with tutors, cancelled some of my exams for me, all sorts! its brilliant and means i can concentrate on staying out of hospital!

if the new breathing technique has triggered your asthma i could imagine that seeing a respiratory physio might help? they can teach you how to breathe in a way your lungs will appreciate (and yes, i refer to my lungs as separate people to me, it helps when i'm mad at them!) which could help you get back on track. obviously this is something your GP would need to decide, but might be an option for you. it sounds as though your GP is being fairly proactive, its good that you're not having to work hard to get to see a specialist! they will be able to look at how your lungs are working and have a lot more know-how to help get you back under control. i've had a few problems with my consultant but i know that my GP would not be able to deal with my asthma as it is at the moment. It also means for me that when i do go into hospital, i can be seen by someone who knows me and knows my lungs and so can come up with a better plan (means less people are writing letters to each other REALLY slowly and making mistakes!) definately get to your GP sooner! you need the appointment much more than some people who'll be filling those slots!

good luck, im sure you'll be feeling better soon, until then *hugs*



Hi everyone :)

Thanks for the lovely advice! Since posting earlier I have actually had to go into hospital with a really bad attack, just got back now so still feeling a bit rubbish. I will call my GP on Monday though to get an emergency appointment - I figure I need the help!

In answer to some questions, last time I was in hospital I was put on a four day course of pred which didn't really help, so I wasn't given it this time today! My college is great though and have deffered my exams this term so I don't have to worry about that :) I also have amazing flatmates who are looking after me so things are starting to look up :)

I'm hoping my gp will get me to a specialist soon - this Fostair is definitely not working for me!

Thanks again for all your help, and let's hope asthma gets easier for all of us! x


They didn't give you pred!!! It may be that the last dose wasn't high enough. What dose were you on? 40mg is the standard adult dose, but I know from experience that they sometimes give 30mg which doesn't have enough umph in my case. I hope you can get things sorted soon, and good luck with GP appoinment on Monday.


Hi Musicgeek,

Hello from a fellow oboist! Nice to 'meet' you though shame about the reason; though I am very rusty atm and all my reeds have died, I find it much harder to play when lungs are acting up (the cor is even harder) so it must be a nightmare given you're at music college and have to be able to play! I wonder about the breathing technique; I always thought that playing the oboe and singing would improve my asthma (one of the reasons I started as a kid) and I think it does to some extent, but I also have bad breathing issues on top of the asthma and the physio I see said what you do when singing/playing may not always be the best for 'good breathing' even though the breathing against resistance and using your diaphragm is good.

Agree with Soph that you should let them know re playing a wind instrument as it does seem to increase your PF - judging from this forum all the wind players have much better PF than predicted even if not playing at the moment, and it can be an issue if they think you're ok at your 'best predicted'.

Also re pred - I used to think it didn't work but it seems to have done this time round. Don't ask me how, but horrible though it is it might be worth asking about. Good luck with appt and really hope you get things sorted or get a referral asap if you need to.


Hi Lou - my last dose of pred was 30 mg (I just checked) so I guess it may be worth asking about a higher dose - I'll definitely mention it to my gp tomorrow, thanks for the advice!

Hey Philomela, always nice to 'meet' a fellow oboist! I never used to have a problem with oboe triggering my asthma but I think the new technique + playing so much more at college has just set me off a bit, and when coupled with the cold weather and the new city I think I understand why I'm having problems! I have told my gp and the people at the hospital about my peak flow - it has always tended to stay around 480 but yesterday I was stuck at 400 so a bit low for me.

Thanks again for everyone's help, just have to wait on the gp now and hope I can get it sorted soon! x


yeah, i find that a slight difference for me in PF is a big difference in symptoms, i think woodwind players are able to really use up all our lungs to blow so that even when we're struggling, one breath can be done pretty well if required! good luck at the GP tomorrow, definitely worth getting it sorted! x


Hello from a fellow woodwind player :-) (mainly flute / piccolo but also for teaching a bit of clarinet a smaller bit of saxophone and a teeny tiny bit of oboe LOL)

I would echo what everyone else has said that ind players will probably have a better PF than non-players although i didn't even realise it until reading this thread!! I just knew that my own peak flow can be 'good' even when i'm feeling rubbish. I'm lucky in that i've only needed OOH once for asthma but even then my PF was normal for me *sigh*


I used to do a lot of solo singing: 3hrs twice a week, and I think that gave me my higher than average peak flow. My best is 600, but when I'm well it drifts from about 550-590. I thought that was average but then found out that it is quite high for a woman over fifty. That a good thing, but I always am under pressure to get doctors and nurses to believe me. They don't seem to beieve it at first and underestimate my symptons when I'm gettting ill. Because of this issue I always try to take a few charts with me to show them to help them get the idea of what my lungs should be doing normally. This strategy does seem to help but gives me work when I don't have any extra energy and makes me worry a bit that I won't be able to do it one day.

Also, my asthma nurse at my surgery seems a bit miffed that my best peak flow is normally so high. She has twice told me that ""It can't be that high because hers isn't that high"" and once she said it was more than a man's should be. Well I don't know about that. all I know is that I only go to the surgery when I really need to, and I wish she wouldn't see it as some sort of competition. It doesn't help! Sandy

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Sorry to hear you have been poorly. I'd definitely have another think about the Pred. I've had 5 day courses of 30 mg and the benefit wasn't amazing; however, in higher doses it has bought about a more rapid improvement (except on this exacerbation but I think thats down to having a few infections)

Also, it will help in the short term whilst the inhaled medications get sorted out.

I second what the others are saying. When well, I swim and play the flute. My best is about 105% of predicted; a quite sizeable drop in peak flow can appear as a 'reasonable number' but it will be around 60% of my best and I can feel rough with it; it's a point some healthcare professionals don't appear to have completely understood!

Good luck in sorting things out!


hi. i am a new member. i have asthma.i am so tired when the weather change.


Hi smile :) I know, the weather change is difficult isn't it! I went back to the gp today and he has given me a 5 day course of pred (30mg) and told me to come back tomorrow morning - I just hope it helps, I'm so fed up of not being able to do anything!

It's interesting about the peak flow - before whenever I've had flare ups I've always maintained around 480, but today I was stuck at 400 again, not sure why it's dropped now...interesting to see that other musicians who use their lungs often maintain a good peak flow, glad it's not just me! :P

Thanks again for all your support :) x


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