Worsening symptoms but no wheeze - Asthma UK communi...

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Worsening symptoms but no wheeze


Hi All,

Just wondering if anyones had any silmilar experience to me, brirfly have been asthmatic since a baby, very bad in childhood with monthly admissions, Im 48 now and still suffer occasional flare ups which I can usually associate with known triggers, animals, pollen etc. However of late I get all the breathlessness and tightness but never any wheezing - Im sick of being told 'my chest is clear as a bell' (I suppose I should be happy but this then leads to docs dismissing the rest of my symptoms as panic attacks or something)

Anyhow Ive just got out of hospital after 4 days, going in through A&E after an attack, trouble is I still feel breathless all the time my peak flow is 50% pre nebuliser and doesnt go up greatly, Im on Ventolin nebs , Seretide 500, Prednisolone, Phyllocontion, was also on another neb in hospital trypt? not sure.

As Im well aware they are throwing the kitchen sink at me with these drugs but Im not feeling any better and still not wheezing which is why I think I was discharged as the docs just kinda shook their heads and said theres not a lot else we can do.

Any advice or similar experiences shared would great, thanks


18 Replies


I very rarely wheeze and yes I have often feared that I have been dismissed because of it especially during a particular bad patch last summer (when it would take weeks of feeling awful before GPs would give me steroids which I knew all along would help). In fact, I once nearly cheered in A&E when a nurse heard a slight wheeze! My main symptoms are a very tight chest and coughing, my peak flow also drops but this is a bit unpredictable. The other problem is that I get my most severe asthma symptoms at night so am often feeling ok when I see my GP. I have also had asthma as a baby and used to wheeze a lot! My meds seem very similar to your too except I only have several courses of pred these days rather than being on maintenance (also on Flixotide inhaler and monteleukast).

Luckily I have had few problems in getting treatment recently which I think is due to a number of things including my cons confirming that yes I did have asthma and adding cough predominant to the diagnosis, having found a GP who would give me steroids/treat my thigh chest this is obviously on my record so other docs can see I have been successfully treated for the same thing, avoidance of the GPs who need to hear a wheeze before they do anything and I think I am much better at explaining symptoms. If I see someone I have never seen before, I always tell them that I rarely wheeze before they listen to my chest. I know others on here have a written summary to give to them Incase they can't talk properly too.

I know this probably isn't very useful to you but just wanted to let you know you are not the only one who doesn't wheeze. In fact there are several of us on here which I always found reassuring when I have felt dismissed because of it.


Yup, I don't usually wheeze either, trying to help is a nightmare and usually results in me coming here to rant! Trouble is when you're finding it hard to breathe, struggling to tell the Gp you DON'T wheeze is difficult. I am in the process of writing a kind of covering letter explaining this so I can just stock that in front of them next time!

Luckily this latest flare my lungs made lots of noise owing probably to the chest infection so I was so pleased when the Gp listened once to each lung and said 'yup, heard enough'!!! I could've jumped up and down and cheered. .... If only I had the puff! I even recorded it (simple things Hey!)


Thanks for the replies, quite reassuring. To update I've been readmitted and they've decided I now do have a chest infection and have been put on iv antibiotics, nebs and iv aminophylline - crap news is after an 18 hour infusion they forgot to check my blood levels so can't make a decision to continue with iv or tablets till tomorrow at the earliest

I don't wheeze and always feel like a fraud even when i'm really ill. I had really nasty chest infection, felt like I had been in a fight with mike Tyson and not a sound was heard - a chest x ray finally confirmed it. Frustrating. X Sue



Just to reassure you I also don't always have the traditional 'wheezing' that all medics appear to look for as the only definitive way of confirming you are having an asthma attack.

When you look on this site at syptons it clearly states that not everyone shows all the symptoms.

I always feel that if medics are taught to also listen to their patient, especially when is comes to health issues like as ty HMA then it would quicken our treatment and put us less at risk.

I do like the idea of having a letter spelling out in black and white, about our asthma and symptoms, usually specific to us.

I do also air on caution as, being a nurse, previously, I try to make sure all my meds are listed out, if/when I require going into hospital, at least they know what I take (I am on a lot of medication). I was admitted to hospital in extreme respiratory distress so couldn't answer questions well enough. Anyway mid spoken words by the ambulance person !ex the main lead in resusnto do a tox screen on me as they thought perhaps I had overdosed on some medication as I was so 'organised'!!

I have to add I have moved about 7 miles from where I used to live so now in emergency situations I am now being taken to another A&E department that is nearer, so they are not 'used to me'!!!! Regards ScarletAngel xx :)

Hello all, I too don't wheeze at all and find it hard to explain even when I know that I don't feel well ... I do now just report on sputum colour a lot of the time instead !!

Also am cough only and not whezzing,

Well I did whezze once but had to be told by someone else as I can't hear my own whezzing ( I am hearing diffrent )

The above make it tricky to know when to get help if things are bad. As some medics are like no whezzing not asthma no nebuliser/o2......

Hi Wheezyrider,

The last time I wheezed, I was below the age of 10, I'm now in my 50's. At that time it was triggered by vigorous exercise and as I was often on my own when it occurred I never realised I was having an asthma attack. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I was diagnosed as being asthmatic. At that time as I was regularly attending the gym with no sign of a wheeze, I was so sceptical about the diagnosis I basically ignored the prescribed inhalers.

As mentioned previously, I'm now in my 50's no sign of a wheeze, just constant production of excessive chest mucus - apologies if you're reading this at an inappropriate moment! My lack of compliance with taking the medication has in the past led to me being hospitalised, but the only indication that something was wrong was the mucus and excessive tiredness, practically being out on my feet.

I now comply religiously with taking the medications and have done for the past 4 or 5 years.




All previous posts contain similar problems to those my daughter experiences. The Consultant and specialist nurses understand but GP and especially A and E docs never do. Distressing for asthmatic to struggle to explain every time on admission. Why do A and E staff not seem to be able to access records of someone who has been in hospital very recently with same acute problem.


Hi everyone,

I am a what is known as a 'hard nose asthmatic' meaning that my asthma is really bad. But yes most of the time I am not wheezy, and that is why most docs say I am fine and few HOURS later I am being resuscitated as I got to respiratory and cardiac arrest. The problem is at the beginning of an attack I just cough and i am breathless. This is when I will see a doc, but as there is no wheezy they say I am fine maybe take some steroids. I go home, by the time I even get there I WILL be wheezing so much you can hear it from a mile. After some time I get so exhausted that I cannot breathe and so I am not wheezy and thats when someone rings ambulance and tells them the story. I can only wheezy for very short periods as I get very fast to the worst asthma attacks. I do not know why but even if I walked in to A&E wheezing so much that you can hear me from far away the docs will just make me sit and wait. Once another patient had to get a docs as I almost DIED in the waiting room in a hospital!? Docs generally do NOT treat my asthma until it becomes life threatening. That is why I keep ending up in A&E and intensive care. They should treat asthma before it gets life threatening. This is just to let you know that even if you get wheezy they will not do much its just the general concept of the docs.

Hi I had several bad attacks a few years ago, was refused admission by ambulance and was sent home once or twice! I also heard nurses, even on HDU saying i was using up a bed! I live in York and was so upset by my treatment and the way it made me feel as I don't wheeze very often, and if i sit still without movement or speech i look fine. I started to investigate and found that I have silent chest, this means that quite often my chest gets so tight that i dont wheeze! in fact i am probably less ill when i do, I wrote a letter to the hospital complaining regarding my treatment and an investigation was done, I had an apology, but most importantly was assured that everyone would be informed and trained regarding this condition.  I have been admitted several times since and although  not all are aware it is much better than it was, which makes me feel a lot safer.


Read "Give Asthma the Big A" rereleased as "Relieve Asthma the Easy vitamin way". It changed my life for the better.

OH, This is me down to a T. I can't breathe properly and have had bad asthma since I was very young. I walk around hardly able to breathe with no wheeze just a severe tightness which is so scary and I am really tight which is coming from my lungs. So many trips to the doctor A and E and only to be told that I am anxious which is now in all my notes and am not being taken seriously as I do not get the wheeze. If I had the wheeze I would be taken more seriously all I keep hearing from doctors is that my chest is clear. I am a 53 year old woman who can't do anything normal because of this. It is HELL on earth. I thought it was bad in the 60's with foul tasting medicine called Tedrille and Ventolin tablets, having to give my own injections in the leg muscle called ACTH, oxygen tents in hospital with a two week stay or more but with modern times why DO DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

I really empathise with your situation. I seem to be in a similar one.

My doctor thinks I am imagining the symptoms. She says ' if I start thinking too much about my breathing, I would think there is something wrong, and be soon feeling short of breath.' A specialist did diagnose me with Asthma.

However I am not under his care to do with medications. I feel I have responded well to Steroid tabs- Prednisolone. But how long can you keep taking that? My Doctor wanted me to stop taking it. Alanus

in reply to Alanus

I often don't wheeze either but have got my consultant to produce a letter which dictates to a&e departments how to treat me. As for steroids I have been on 40mg for the last year as my asthma has been classed as severe. However doctors don't like to do more the 3-5 days I think is usual because of long term side effects. The looks and questions I get when I tell doctors I have been on that dose for a year is quite amusing!! X

So, is it asthma still, or something else?

I don't get a wheeze either but I struggle with my breathing

I don't wheeze and have had bad asthma episodes since I was little always in the colder months. It's been particularly bad this year and work are giving me warning after warning (even though they have called an ambulance for me 3 times).

I've been to see my GP none stop since December and she thinks it's anxiety. I had a bad attack while driving to work and managed to get myself to minor injuries. I was definitely not imagining the tightness or the lack of air I could inhale and the nurses seemed to think it was my asthma too.

I just don't know what to do because I'm only 20 and only found out 2 years ago I was asthmatic. I had to leave university because it's been that bad and I am getting more stressed at being robbed off and not listened too.

Any help or way to manage it would be appreciated :)

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