Asthma UK community forum
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Brittle Asthma and SATs

Hi everyone,

I have only recently been diagnosed with Brittle Asthma following a dose of pneumonia last year and 12 months of uncertain diagnoses. I have been having regular and fairly severe attacks and long periods of general ill health and chronic fatigue. I am new to forums like this so please forgive me if I am repeating a question that someone else has asked, but I am wondering if anyone out there can give me the benefit of their experience. Whenever I have an attack the symptoms can vary, with their sometimes being a pronounced wheeze and other times no wheeze at all and my SATs seem to vary wildly as well. Sometimes I can be really struggling to breathe whilst my SATs are up at 97% and other times they can drop down to around 80 - 85%. Does anyone else have this ? It can be quite frustrating when paramedics and doctors dismiss an incident as nothing more than a panic attack if my SATs aren't below 91% or so.

2 Replies

Hello, most of the time when I have an acute asthma attack, my oxygen saturation doesn't really drop and this isn't uncommon. On occasion they have gone down to 80-85% but rarely. As long as you still have some air going in and out, and your gas exchange is okay then your blood will get oxygenated. People can actually tolerate a drop in saturation fairly well, its if you get a build up of carbon dioxide which is more problematic. Have you ever had arterial blood gases done? (They take the blood with a fine needle, from the artery in your wrist). It looks at oxygenation, adequacy of ventilation and acid base levels.

Whilst I can understand docs not getting worked up if sats are above 90% its still unhelpful to presume a panic attack just based on O2 saturation.

And not everyones a wheezer - Im not ;)

1 like

Thanks, that's really helpful, and its put my mind at rest a little bit.


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