Newly Diagnosed - a Few Basic Questions - Help!

I've very recently (3 months ago) been diagnosed with adult onset asthma. Unfortunately I have seen a coupls of doctors who haven't been very forthcoming in providing information so I have had to do my own research. Firstly I had a wheezy cough and tight chect for months and my OH finally packed me off to the drs. The dr tested my oxygen levels (which were good) and listened to my chest, asked about my medical history then said it was possibly asthma and gave me the blue reliever inhaler 2 puffs, 4 times a day for a week then reduing it to as and when I felt I needed it. She also suggested taking anti-allergy (loretadine) tablets which I have been taking. We also discussed triggers which for me were pets, dust and strong perfumes, chemicals, cigarette smoke, things like that. The inhaler improved things short term when I took the inhaler but my syptoms were still triggered by the same things. After a nasty cold / flue type virus my cough and tight chest returned even worse than before and I was taking the reliever 4-6 times a day every day and after a week or so I had another drs appointment as I just couldn't breath easily at all and chest was so tight. By the time I had been kept waiting for 30 mins or so past my appt time and combined with the strong anticeptic smell in the waiting room I was almost gasping for breath and coughing continuously. The dr checked my oxygen levels which were again very good and listened to my chest (complete with gasping and wheezy cough) and said it was definately asthma and my airways were very imflamed and gave me a preventer steriod inhaler 2 puffs 4 times a day. There was no further information given. Since then I have had a telephone consultation to reduced my preventer (yes, a newly diagnosed asthmatic having steriod inhaler dose changed over the phone with no face to face consultation) and a follow up appointment booked ina few weeks but nothing further. I asked if I should go to their asthma clinic and they just said do you feel you need to.

Sorry for the long intro but my questions are - I have had times when i have been gasping for breath and coughing in the past (before diagnosis) to the point it made me feel dizzy/faint but after taking it easy for a while it did subside, also when in a pub with a smoky open fire I suddenly had a very tight chest and lots of wheezy coughing and had to leave and take my blue inhaler. Were these asthmas attacks or just me having asthma syptoms? I've had repeated chest infections, bronchitis then pluerisy and cracked a rib through coughing over the past 10 or so years - is this related - have I had undiagnosed asthma for a while? Should I go to an asthma clinic? How do I get the dr to discuss any details with me like do I need an asthma plan like it says on this website - what questions do i need to ask? It takes 6 weeks to get a drs appointment and then they seem to want to get rid of you as soon as they can so I feel a bit lost at the moment. I have not had my peak flow measured in any of these appointments and there has been no mention of this from the dr - is that normal? Can I have good oxygen levels but still have asthma and if so how?

Thanks in advance for anyone's help :-)

2 Replies

  • Hi Lobby, welcome to the forum.

    One of the first things you need to know about asthma is that it affects people in different ways. What triggers your asthma is not necessarily going to act as a trigger for other people. That said, there are certain things we all share and one of them is an increased tendency to develop chest infections. Defining ""an attack"" is a little more tricky. I would normally say that my (normally very well controlled) asthma is having a flare up if I start to feel tight and breathless. If taking a blue reliever inhaler does not improve the situation then I am at risk of the condition spiralling out of control and ending up with a full blown attack. With me, it never usually gets to that situation. If my asthma does not respond to my blue inhaler I will contact my local GP surgery and either get an emergency appointment, or ask for advice from a doctor. My local surgery has been dealing with my asthma for over twenty years, so they are very good at getting me to see someone, or ensuring that I get good advice.

    Which brings me to the next point: it is very, very important that you develop a good working relationship with your GP. As you have said yourself, ideally you need to develop an Asthma Action Plan and you need to do this with your GP. If you can, book a double appointment to go through it with him/her. Failing that, or if you can't get an appointment for six weeks, then yes, make an appointment at the asthma Clinic - you definitely do need to discuss this, and soon. Once there, and if you don't already have one, ask if they will let you have a peak flow metre (PFM), and ask them to explain to you how to use it. Keeping a daily record of your PFM rate will help you to understand when you are at risk of your asthma going out of control. Before you go, make a list of any questions you want to ask and don't be afraid to ask them.

    Hope this helps, and good luck

  • Many thanks for your reply and advice Maggie and sorry for my late response to your post, I will certainly have a list of questions ready for my next doctors appointment and ask them to check my peak flow. I know my asthma is mild compared to a lot of other's on here so I've not much to complain about really - just feeling a little lost at the moment :-)

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