Asthma UK community forum

What is wrong with me?


I'm new to this forum and really hoping someone can give me a little advice or reassurance...

Was diagnosed asthmatic in late 2009 at the age of 22 and since then it had spiralled out of control. My GP says I have brittle asthma. I have had 4 hospital admissions in the last year (two of those in the High Dependency Unit) and take a myriad of drugs/inhalers. Generally, the attacks I have are silent (no wheeze) and some drs say my chest is clear even when I am really struggling. Oxygen sats always seem to be ok even mid-attack. Was discharged from my last admission last Sunday where at my arrival to A&E they considered intubation.

In the last month, I have been sent to the ""difficult asthma clinic"" at my local hospital where the first thing they said was that they needed to make sure that it is definitely asthma.

I must note here that I also take antidepressants and have done for nearly 10 years. When I asked the consultant what else it could be if it wasn't asthma, he generally looked vague and insinuated that it might be linked to my depression.

It has always been a massive fear of mine that even though I know there is something wrong, people don't believe me or even think that I am making it up. Is this what he is thinking?

3 Replies

Hi Chukkin

It sounds like you are having a really tough time.

I can't really comment on whether or not it is asthma, as I'm quite new to all this, but I don't think that the doctors think you are making it up. I think being admitted to the high dependency unit and considering intubation means that they can see something is up. I'm assuming the consultant you are referring to is an asthma specialist? In which case he probably won't know what is causing it if the cause is not respiratory. I think it's a good thing that they want to make sure whether it is asthma first of all. If they conclude it isn't they'll probably refer you onto someone else who will want to investigate further. I do hope you get to the bottom of it - it sounds awful!


If it any help at all, the first thing they *always* do is consider *medical* things that look like asthma but aren't, as well as things that aren't asthma themselves but can combine with asthma to turn a more mild form of asthma to something that is nasty indeed.

Common things they look for are problems higher up in the airway that can block breathing or irritate the lungs below (VCD,sinus problems) , lung conditions that sometimes look like asthma but are in fact something else (COPD, bronciolitis, among others), digestive and coordination problems that can cause food and gastric juices to end up in the lungs rather than the stomach where they belong (GERD, swallowing problems).

They also look at how one manages breathing when it gets difficult. People without asthma can do a lot of less than perfect things with the way they breathe and no harm is done. However, those of us with asthma, particularly severe asthma, have to become expert breathers so we don't further aggravate an already bad situation with hyperventilation or inefficient use of accessory muscles.

Depression isn't something that *causes* asthma - people who are depressed don't fail to breathe. However, depression often does makes it much harder for people to cope with medical conditions of any sort and that includes asthma.

If you are taking lots and lots of meds for asthma, you are probably have a very complicated medication regime. Even people that don't have depression have to work on figuring out how to take all that medication on time. Add to that concentration problems that sometimes come with depression, and it becomes even harder. Further, if depression is severe enough, it can be really really hard to find the energy and motivation for any self-care activities, That would include medication, so sometimes even with the best intentions in the world, a person struggling with depression might find it hard to take medications or go out to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions. All this can also aggravate asthma and needs to be dealt with, but it most certainly doesn't mean that the asthma itself is in one's head.

Hope you start feeling better soon.


Thanks to both Ayla and Beth for your reassurances. Yes, the doctor I saw today was an expert in difficult asthma, and it was my first time seeing him. So, instead of feeling relieved and with a better understanding of what I am dealing with, I returned from the appointment feeling even more confused and lost.


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