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Asthma without wheezing or O2 levels dropping

My daughter, who is 16 years old, was diagnosed with severe asthma two years ago. SHe has been controlled for the last 7 months using advair. Howeer when she has a cevere attack he stats dont drop and she doesn't wheeze. Her air movement just becaomes extremely diminished. My problem is that orten doctors don't believe her because of this. I can see she is in severe distress because she can't complete a sentence. her breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and she has extreme tightness in the lower part of her chest. TShe was released from the hspital yesterday after a 3 day stay and the doctor who released he would not presrcibe any steroids because he would not believe that it is asthma. He suggested vcd but she never is hoarse, never wheezes, can talk through attacks, and never feels like herupper airway is constricted. How do I get doctors to listen to us when she is having a severe attack<

5 Replies

This is one of the biggest problems I have with my asthma and I have been told by A&E that it can't possibly be asthma as I am not wheezing. My O2 stays fine but then suddenly drops really quickly which again is hard to explain. Yet my spirometry results show asthma and I have been diagnosed as severe asthmatic. I have become very good at explaining to A&E what my asthma is like which can help but this can be difficult in attacks. Some people write this information down. My cons who investigated my diagnosis as they thought it could be vcd wrote me an individual action plan which also outlines my atypical asthma to A&E. I haven't had to use it yet but hopefully it will help the doctors treat my attacks as asthma and not stop me from using nebs like what has happened in the past. Maybe this is something you could ask for. This advice came from the helpline nurses so if you haven't already you could phone them too. I hope this helps.


They suggested VCD for my daughter two but she doesn't fit any of the descriptions of vocal chord dysfuntion that I have read. Also two pulmonologists have done the lung function tests and agree it's asthma. Maybe I should get a letter from her primary doctor that we can take to the er with us


Ah I have this exact problem with my asthma, I never wheeze but my lungs feel heavy and I cough a lot. I've had trouble getting the doctors to believe me too, I'm going through a flare up at the moment and I went through a 5am out of hours GP appointment, asthma nurse appointment and another GP appointment before someone finally went 'ah this is quite severe actually, here, have some steroids.' I got the advice of one of the lovely nurses at the asthma UK helpline and it gave me the reassurance I needed to know that things weren't normal and the confidence to go back to the GP and lay it on thick with them that I needed extra help. At the end of the day if things have deteriorated from what is normal for her then emphasis on that can help, they also look for more frequent medication use and things like that too. Normally when I have a chest infection going on my steroid inhaler 4 puffs a day with the odd puff of Ventolin is enough. Right now I'm on 8 puffs of steroid inhaler and waking every 2-3 hours or less requiring more Ventolin - that is not remotely normal for me but trying to convince the healthcare professionals of this was really hard when they're listening to my chest and telling me it's clear!

I hope you can get something sorted - I think in general A&E professionals aren't hugely familiar with the non-wheeze type of asthma so maybe your regular asthma nurse who knows your daughter's asthma can help.



I have just joined the forum today. I have spent the last 12 months bouncing back to my GP with my asthma. I don't wheeze and struggle with getting the right treatment. I am physically exhausted from arguing about my symptoms. I have found my practice nurse much more understanding but fed up of a start to a new year with chest infection and being told you are not wheezing. Whilst fed up reading your posts gives me reassurance that I'm not going mad. Thank you.


Hello, I'm currently the same age as your daughter and my sats will vary from 94-97 during an attack. However the doctors say that my air entries are tight and that sometimes they can't hear air flowing through. Also apparently it's more serve if the person isn't wheezy, all very confusing. But due to my sats being reasonably stable my consultant thought I had vocal cord dysfunction other than asthma but I had a camera up my nose and down the back of my throat and Nope no sign of vcd. And normally during an attack I will have back to back nebuliser for like an hour and then hydrocortisone through the vein and normally theophylline drip form and everything's relieved. I do find it very complicated & if doctors which haven't treated me before come across me during an asthma attack they basically are useless because in the end my consultant has to come sort everything out.

I hope this is sorted very soon though and best wishes


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