Asthma UK community forum
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To wheeze or not to wheeze!

I am really just getting so frustrated and down lately regarding my asthma. It's as if I'm being punished as a result of being a lifelong asthmatic who is perfectly capable of identifying and attempting to manage their own symptoms. For example, I know after having a cold for 1-2 weeks that in all probability it will go straight to my chest, develop into a phlegm-ridden hacking nightmare of a cough and then a chest infection to the point that breathing will be an increasing struggle and I will need to go and see my GP for a course of steroids to avoid physical and mental collapse. Luckily, I have recently found a GP at my surgery who at least understands enough about asthma/asthmatics to know and appreciate that I am the one who is best placed to know how I feel and what I need to try and control my asthma...

So, why does the asthma specialist at the hospital seem to think that it's only asthma if you have a wheeze!? It really makes me want to beat him with his asthma textbooks (not that I have the physical energy or lung capacity to throw such an impressive wobbler at the moment - lucky for him!). Prior to this referral to see a specialist being made I was admitted to A&E on Tuesday night with an asthma attack, again to be told that I wasn't wheezing and my stats were pretty good. It made me feel like they were going to wait until I had collapsed on the floor and was turning blue before giving me a nebulizer! Yes, for an asthmatic I do have strong lungs and have done all I can over the years to try and improve my situation (e.g. music and sports), but they're still hypersensitive and I still do get attacks, just the same as any other asthmatic.

But why are they so obsessed with wheezing? Don't they realise that feeling as if you are not being taken seriously induces stress which in turn induces asthma? I don't know what else they expect me to say or do, and it's making me think I'm going mad and I know I'm not. Fingers crossed for the latest combination of meds; I now have Atrovent, 2 puffs 4 times a day. I really hope this works as I've not been so frightened about my asthma for years. I certainly don't have a lot of confidence in my specialist.

12 Replies

Sorry youre going through such a rough time at the mo.

It is silly the way doctors are uneducated about asthma and a regular topic on here from the non wheezers ;-) its good to have the corums to vent to other people who do a tually understand.

Sorry im not really any belp. Hoping the new treatment works and you start to improve soon. Take care.

Rose xx


I'm so glad to find people who go through the same thing- my GP put it down to 'anxiety' today, as if after 10 years I can't tell the difference!

Hope you see more understanding doctors in the future (:


I have to admit until I found this site I didn't know about non wheezing asthma and after all I have read about the treatment you get (or don't get) as a non wheezer, I am almost glad that I have a very loud wheeze, the stupid thing is I wheeze when I am not always even that SOB it always sounds much worse than it is.

Sorry not much in the way of help my reply but I hope your sorted out soon.

Take Care



i had my very first attack where anxiety adversely affected my lungs today - and surprise surprise, i actually KNEW i was anxious...i didn't feel perfectly calm whilst being so anxious i was having a panic attack (as some docs seem to think!) I have a variable wheeze - its basically either there and ridiculously loud, or not there at all most of the time! Its MUCH easier when your lungs sound like death!

And actually it was trying to get the help that stressed me out - rang 999, i couldn't walk, could barely talk and trying to explain to this operator that it doesn't matter what her computer says - there are places at my university which aren't accommodation - im in those places. if you send it to the accommodation i wont be there! managed to get to the ambulance but was so SOB and stressed and tearful from worrying that i was just going to collapse in the middle of nowhere that yes, i was probably hyperventilating a bit. I knew i was, i calmed my breathing as much as i could, and then we were still left with the asthma symptoms. I hate docs that just don't get it!!!


Sorry soph sounds like a terrible experience. I collapsed in the loos at uni once. So embarrassing :-| Hoping you feel better soon. My prescription is plenty of choccy and then plenty more lol! ;-)

Rose xx


When I'm bad sometimes I have a good wheeze others no wheeze/not much wheeze and an awful cough that's non stop and a bit pathetic. Either way my PF is a good indicator of how hard it is to breathe.

I do get annoyed with the people who say ""no wheeze, not asthma"".

I hope you get better soon and the atrovent works for you. If you're not confident in your specialist (and you should be) then you should ask for a referal elsewhere.


When I can, if I have to see someone that doesn't know me, I've gotten in the habit of bringing along an old spirometry test printout. It's ancient history but it drives home the point that I can be significantly impaired even without a wheeze. (FEV1 = 68% = moderate severe).

stray - there are a variety of theories about wheezes and what causes them. It definitely is more than just narrowing of the airways. I believe air has to be moving faster than a certain threshhold velocity relative to (a) narrowing of airways (b) level of mucus production. The wheeze is actually caused by the flutter of air passing through restricted airways and mucus, See .

I do sometimes wheeze but (a) the only two doctors that have ever heard it also had ears so finely tuned that they could here a very mild heart murmur - most people can't hear the murmur or the wheeze (b) the wheeze only seems to be audible during a certain phase between mild and moderate asthma symptoms. Once I get into my moderate zone, I move air so I'm not a silent chest, but apparently not enough to wheeze given my level of restriction and mucus production (I don't tend to produce a lot of mucus).


Thanks everyone, it's nice to know I'm not alone! Soph - I think different A&E's admissions policies are one of the things that make asthma attacks go from bad to worse. My husband took me to A&E the other night and it was the first hospital admission for an asthma attack I'd had since being with him and he seemed to think we'd have to sit and wait for me to be seen! When I glanced up and saw the massive amount of people in the waiting room the anxiety it triggered in addition to being unable to breathe made me keel over. Did get me seen an awful lot quicker though!


Well it's been an eventful week - I went for a CT scan on Wednesday morning, which was arranged by the chest specialist at the hospital, and after an urgent call from the hospital later on in the day asking me to come in immediately it turns out I have a Pulmonary Embolism/blood clot on my lungs! This should explain why my lungs haven't been working properly lately, but who would have thought it? I'm only 29! No wonder I've been so short of breath and have had such chest pain! Unfortunately the treatment is pretty downright miserable. I'm in and out of the GP's, INR Clinic and hospital, having my blood tested all the time and on top of at least 6 months of anti-coagulant tablets I'm having to be injected in my stomach every day for a week with more anti-coagulants until the tablet form kicks in. The pain of the medication spreading after it's been injected is insane - it's like it's eating away at my skin and burning it to pieces! I feel so sorry for anyone who has to do this every day. I've had to get my poor hubby to do it for me and I'm in such a state every time that it must make him feel so guilty! :(


Hello Natalie,

I am so sorry that you are having such a rough time of it at the moment.

I do hope your treatment plan will improve things for very soon.

Take care of yourself.


Nice to know not everyone has a wheeze. I don't really ""wheeze"" as such until I get to a really bad point and then I don't notice if I'm wheezing or not. I've just been told.


Ah no Natalie, that sounds horrible! Really sorry to hear this - you must be really counting the days till the end of the week.

Hope you feel better soon, though I guess at least you know what it is now. Did they say if once this is resolved your lungs should start feeling better?

Gentle hugs...


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