How can my lungs get worse so quickly?!?!

I'm 17 (well, one more week and that will be true!). A year and a half ago, I had maybe mild intermittent asthma. I had a Ventolin inhaler for when I was breathless and that was it. I had had a Ventolin inhaler once before when I was 6 and I had a particularly bad chest infection and ended up with Prednisolone, antibiotics and a puffer, all of which I absolutely hated!

Anyway, so about a year ago, things started to get worse. I was using my blue inhaler about once a day. A month later, I was using it about 6 times a day so I went to my doctor to ask about getting a spacer, thinking maybe the meds weren't getting into my lungs properly. I ended up with an Able Spacer. I managed to go down to maybe 5 puffs a day. However, by July, I was using it with the spacer about 10 times a day and was still tight and breathless. In August, I saw my doctor again and told her the truth about how things were going, and she made an appointment for me to see the Asthma nurse for spirometry in October.

When I went, my cough was horrible and I couldn't get through an FEV without coughing and I couldn't stand up without needing to take a breather. I am a trained singer so my lung function should be somewhere around the 120% mark. It was down to 80% which, if you adjust that to take into account where my values should have been, I was closer to 60%. Each time I had an attack it would have dropped to about 15-20%. She gave me Clenil 100, 2 puffs twice a day. Between that and my next review 6 weeks later I had had 2 rounds of Pred. and two rounds of antibiotics but we could see an improvement.

At the 12 week mark - 24th December 2014 - the chest tightness I was getting in the mornings was getting worse and my peak flow chart showed big, angry zigzags across each page. It was Christmas Eve and I was kind of down because I didn't want to wake up on Christmas Day unable to do anything until I had used my Ventolin a few times. The nurse listened and looked at my chart and gave me Seretide 50/25 (2 puffs twice a day). Three weeks later and I was a different person. I was back doing ice hockey which I love, and I was faring much better in choir and no longer did the walk from the bus station to college seem so daunting.

I got a really bad cold shortly afterwards so I had another round of Pred. but that was only to help me out.

February came round and I was back at the docs. I had been yellow-zoning for about a week and I couldn't keep my Sere 50 stepped up any longer because that's not good in terms of the OD of Salmeterol! The doc gave me Seretide 125/25 and said to use it for two weeks and then step back down.

Two weeks later I stepped back down. By the following night I was tight-chested, breathless and coughing. After two days of this I decided enough is enough and that I would step back up until I was clear out of the yellow zone.

A week later I was hit by another respiratory infection. More antibiotics. More Prednisolone. More Salamol (I prefer this to Ventolin).

I ran out of Sere 125 about a week after I finished those so I stepped back down and bam, my lungs rebelled. I went back to the doc last week and got another (although he said he wouldn't put it on my repeat seeing as I have now made an appointment to see my Asthma nurse next week) and since then I've been better.

The Seretide 50/25 was working so well so why is it not anymore? Why has my asthma just been getting worse just as we think we've got it under control? :/

4 Replies

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  • They say asthma comes in 7 year cycles. Perhaps staying on higher prevener till you know what your triggers are. Do you know if you are allergic to dust? Is your bedroom hoovered weekly and damp dusted weekly? Are you worse in middle of night?

    I went from little meds to highest the specialist consultant could do and now I am lower but it took around 5 years to calm down. Irritated lung airways take a long time to calm down as your airways cannot take a week of to repair they have to function and repair at same time.

    Asthma is all about being patient and keeping a detailed diary to take to doctors.

    Hope that helps.

  • Thank you, yes that is helpful.

    My mum has cancelled my appointment with the nurse and made an appointment with the GP instead as she wants me referred to an allergist. I also suffer from severe hayfever which we can't control either so she's hoping he/she could help on both fronts.

  • Given your age there could be another reason why things are unstable - hormones. I'm in my early fifties (having had a lifetime of suffering from asthma) and I'm well aware that I'm rather more sensitive to certain triggers at the moment. Fortunately my rhinitis is being hit by this more than my asthma (and I've started to get eczema again - something that hasn't happened for decades).

  • Hi,

    Asthma can varry among individual people but can also varry in a lifetime. I sometimes think my asthma just likes to keep me on my toes! I have had asthma nearly 30 years and have heard the seven year cycle before (I am hoping this is correct as my asthma started getting difficult in 2009 so I should be due a break soon!)

    In short - I was a wheezy baby and often struggled for breath. I had several hospital admissions at a very young age but my parents were told it was due to the fact I was premature and had immature lungs (my dad is asthmatic). I was finally diagnosed aged 4 but it was controlled with a brown and blue inhaler and occasional courses of pred (around this time I also had my first severe allergic reaction and so took antihistamines too (I also have hayfever and excema). Just before I went to secondary school my asthma kicked off big time. I had several life threatening attacks and was put on maintence pred along with other meds which settled it and when I started university I was just on a blue inhaler adding in brown during the hayfever season. If it wasn't for the fact that Ventolin given early enough sometimes stops me from developing anaphylaxis (I have severe allergic reactions to tree nuts, NSAIDS and wasp stings) I probably wouldn't have even needed that at times. Then on 2009 (my mid twenties) my asthma slowly got worse over several years to the point where I have had 10 admissions in the past year (2 were to HDU) and am being seen at a difficult asthma clinic with a possible brittle asthma diagnosis (they can't decide whether it is true asthma or allergy). My asthma has changed too. I used to very wheezy, then they considered a CVA diagnosis and now I am becoming more wheezy again. My attacks are starting to become quite severe quite quickly where they used to be very slow burn too.

    Anyway my point was that it is not unusual for Asthma to change in a persons life time and the step approach to treatment allows for stepping up and stepping down treatment. Hopefully you will gain better control soon. However, looking back, one of the nurses said I should have been referred back to the hospital much sooner than I was when things started to go wrong. I think I saw in another thread that your mum suggested asking for a referral to an allergy clinic but don't be afraid to push for this if necessary.

    Take care

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