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Asthma 'trial'


I've been given a brown inhaler following a terrible, long cough. I had oral steroids too which helped.

I'm still very confused by the difference in approach between GP and nurse! - I believe this is a trial of brown to see if my peak flow improves; it's not what it should be though could just be me. Blue inhalers certainly helped ease some symptoms.

My peak flow improves by about 20 points after using a blue. The nurse said that warranted the trial. I've been told that yes, this is indicative of asthma but I just wondered if such a small difference is usual? It doesn't seem much.

Or is this one of those "asthma is tricky" questions!

22 Replies

Hi Haggis the blue is to relieve pressure and helps you breathe, the brown is a long term anti-inflammatory probably's like a first step to helping out with your asthma. Check the Asthma UK website you will find it well-explained and in doubt phone a nurse there. Take care.


Thanks Happy - I think I'm in denial this is asthma!

So in a normal person the blue wouldn't change peak flow?

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Hi haggis

You've come to the right place to get some of the information you need to help you deal with it.

As happylondon pointed out, the two inhalers have different roles. Blue to help you breathe (reliever or more technically a bronchodilator) & brown to tackle the longer-term symptoms (preventer). In a normal person, peak flow might change a little but a 10% or better improvement in peak flow following blue inhaler usage is generally seen as an indicator of asthma.

Steroids are usually given as a short-term 'hit' if your breathing is well below where it should be.

Don't deny it too much...the best thing is to accept it's there (assuming it is!!) so you can deal with it & enjoy a full life.


Thanks - 10% change it more. I'm just trying to get it straight in my head as its possible it isn't long term asthma.

It's been very confusing as GP diagnosed it just through a slightly low peak flow and the fact that blue relieved symptoms, but Nurse was more (rightly) cautious and also said she wanted to try a brown.

(I'm also not very with it at the moment! Very dozy and forgetful!)


Hi Haggis you are most welcome

Everything changes your peak flow from your morning coffee to your daily stress or pudding 😊 We all have our triggers. You get to know your body trial and error..all extra meds change our peak flow.

The blue inhaler opens your lung and lets the air through so it should all help. Inhaling technique is important if you want maximum result. I have an aerochamber much better to get product in your chest. I was told that even with it you only inhale 15% of the product in.

I don't focus on the peak flow except when I feel Im not breathing.. Do you feel the air getting through your nose and mouth, are you able to walk, run and talk freely or are you huffing and puffing, waking up at night..

You know how you feel you feel great measure your peak flow to see what you can achieve and note it down. You feel stuffy measure that and evaluate the difference..

Between 100 and 80 % of your best score you're in the green. You follow your regular treatment.

Between 80 and 60% of your best score orange alert, you go to your GP or nurse for help and take what they give you as extra help.

Below that you are in the red so it's A&E

I have an action plan, emergency meds at home and still sometimes I feel am I doing the right thing? Well that's why we have doctors.

Now make a peak flow journal morning lunch night for a few regular days and get an idea of how it fluctuates.

Good luck Haggis take care

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Hi haggisplant,

I've had asthma since I was in high school and I used to have both a brown (preventer) inhaler (which I no longer need) and my blue (reliever) inhaler which I still have and take two puffs of (for some reason my inhaler has been knocked down to on puff even though I have told both my doctor and asthma nurse that one isn't enough for me as I used to only have one pufff when I was first prescribed inhalers for my asthma (I have the inhaler that sort of looks like a darlek from doctor who as I cannot use the the inhalers that u have to shake before you use them as they "knock me for 6,so to speak) and I found out that the one puff wasn't enough for me and when I told either the doctor or asthma nurse about it they put my inhalers upto 2 puffs instead of the one.

Either next time you see either ur doctor or asthma nurse ask them to explain to them that they didn't explain to u why you need so much asthma medication as I've only got one inhaler. I was given a blueish green inhaler around this time last year as I had a cough that I couldn't shift and it was making me use my inhaler more, but I had to stop using the new inhaler as it was making me feel sick.

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Thank you both!

I have fully explained - I'm not properly diagnosed asthmatic. I've had an appalling cough since November which improved with steroids, then worsened. Now on brown and blue.

The above info is really helpful - especislly the 'stuffy' feeling. Actually, I've started noticing short phases of feeling like I'm breathing clear fresh water (if that makes sense!) and noticed my nose is less stuffy too. I wonder if I've been a bit this way for a while.

The cough brought it to the 'fore' so to speak.

So I'm still in the fence actually as far as asthma nurse is concerned - but she said an increase in peak flow indicated asthma. That's fine, I'm getting accustomed to the idea I do have asthma (denial!) - at least at the moment. I'm not allergic to pets etc though.

So in a normal healthy person, the blue makes no change to their peak flow?

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Well it would yes some athletes have been known to use it to boost their performance.

Diagnosing asthma is a complex process yes and accepting it if it is diagnosed takes time.

You will know if you feel better with or without your daughter for example just has the blue when she has a cold or chest infection then she resumes an ordinary life..


Ah ok Happy, I see.

Yes the whole thing seems to be complicated and individual, which I had no idea about to be honest.

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No worries and let us know how you are getting on :))

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Thank you for your advice and support!

One question I have is could symptoms from exercise be delayed? Perhaps stupidly I tried a gentle jog this morning. I was fine afterwards - possibly a bit tight during but not out of breath. I've been coughing a lot this evening, not sure of any particular trigger.

I know this might be an unanswerable question!

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Hi Haggis I was told to take 2 puffs of blue inhaler 15mn before exercise, so do that before you go jogging and take it with you in case you need another puff.

I don't know about your coughing tonight but if you cough and feel tight take a puff wait a minute then another. Measure your peakflow, Do you have a spacer or aerochamber that is very useful, ask the nurse to give you one and show you how to use it. You also have description in the Asthma UK website. Why don't you give the helpline a call tomorrow to talk to a nurse they are very kind and competent and have helped me lot in the past.

Have a good night :)))


Thanks Happy!

Yes I did puff blue before - I'm thinking it might be something else. I'm taking the blue regularly as a matter of course but had eased up a bit today as felt clearer. Who knows!

I'm not sure I 'know' my peak flow yet. It was slightly less during coughing, same as

I have a spacer thanks, and yes have had a chat to asthma uk, just keep thinking up new questions!

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I guess it's reassurance. I'm a bit in shock but keep remembering times in the last few years where now I wonder if very mild asthma was an issue.

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Asthma is a chronic illness. It can become an issue if left untreated. It can affect certain periods of our lives and go away, come back or not, or develop.

Reassurance will come with the confidence that you are taking your meds, that they are effective, so you are in control of your life, your daily activities.

I told you or not( Can't remember as I go on a bit😜) what my favorite consultant told me when I got to the Respiratory Clinic for the first time? Asthma control is all about finding the right med for you.

I miss her she was asthmatic and knew what she was talking about.

Take care Haggis and don't over worry :)))


Normal you're thinking up new questions, i tell you have a bundle of them right now with all the boxes of meds on my bedside table😃

Asthma has this unpredictable, individual side can do an asthma journal as well, so you write down over a week or more then look at the patterns, after a while you will get to know your own body/profile..

When the brown inhaler starts kicking in you should see some progress..make sure you take regularly, give it a couple of weeks..

If you don't go back to the nurse..

We are on different meds some didn't suit us and we gave up, some make that difference..

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Thanks for your reply :)

I'm not sure if I'm being silly going into work tomorrow or not :/

I've clearly had a bit of an issue this morning; coughing and a lower peak flow. It was possibly triggered by stress? I'm not sure - I'm wondering if it's a bit chicken and egg, and I feel more stressed if tight chested? What ever it was, certainly when I felt better (had taken blue) peak flow had increased from 390 to 425 - not much but I noticed the difference in both breathing and tension.

Hence wondering about work! It's both stressful at times (though I've been stressed being off work) and I have to talk a lot. (Teacher of Sen children) .

I think it will be interesting to see how I go. I'll take the blue frequently!


Hi Haggis just saw your posts, hope you are ok. Difficult to evaluate if you are up to working today..the blue should last 3 to 4 hours they say but I found it all depended on how your lungs felt.

If you take more blue your asthma is not controlled, you need to go back to nurse or GP and upgrade your preventer.

You just started a new preventer may be you need to get that checked again.

Not being able to talk sufficiently is a sign of poorly controlled asthma.

I believe you need a little break when is half-term?

Practising relaxation breathing techniques should help you to cope with stress but your stress comes from not getting results from your new med regime.


I think asthma uk had said there are different treatments and it's wort trying different ones.

I'm keeping peak flow diary but also another one with extra bits (eg today).

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Yes there is all sorts on the market, trial and error but you need to give it time except if you have an adverse reaction in which case you drop it.

Good for the peak flow diary and journal, a useful tool when you go back to the nurse, you are documented and it helps with answering the right questions..

Day by day Haggis ☀️☀️☀️


Just saw you were teaching SEN children! Very courageous and rewarding!

I remember when I had the nurture group for Spanish! thank God for the interactive whiteboard and the BBC primary schools videos! Alternating with worksheets for quiet time and personalized tuition, all different levels, over prepared and a fortune spent on stickers from the one-pound shop😃😃

Well we got through our 50 mn period without too many hair pulling and pencil stabbing then I had the GCSE group to concentrate on..

I loved teaching in comprehensive schools until I had to put in my 450 grades in the computer and was invaded with clerical duties.. I miss my form most, got some of them on FB, married, kids..

Good times, demanding times and many joys.

Take care Haggis 😊


Sorry late reply! Ha, yes a crazy job. It's jolly hard st the mo as things keep changing. We have to invent so much it takes so much time and energy. I do PPA cover so miss the regularity of one class; I teach 4 different classes over 2 days.

Another question!

I've ALWAYS had badly itching chin/ upper neck with bad coughs that linger. Had this on an off with this last one which has ended up being thought to be asthma.

Seems to pop up in Google. I'm guessing it's a common symptom?

I'm starting to think it's only really linked to viruses and bugs. Would that be cough variant asthma? Though now, I'm spotting random signs eg wheeze/ squeak, throat clearing etc despite last infection being 4-5 weeks ago (and treated successfully with abs).


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