I'm new here and trying to come to terms with having experienced my first Asthma Attack this week :(!


I've been trying to come to terms with what happened to me on Monday so I thought maybe writing this would be a start. I am usually a healthy 26 year old woman; I was born with asthma (Take two inhalers Symbicort twice in the evening and twice in the morning. I have a blue inhaler to be used as/when needed which I've never really had to use) although it has always been controlled...until it wasn't.

Last Monday I started experiencing hot sweats during work and pains under both my armpits and into my right shoulder, I presumed it was weather related/I'd somehow pulled a muscle in my shoulder (I live in Belfast and we ACTUALLY experienced some nice weather, a rarity here!) I take my dog a walk every evening after work, although on Tuesday I started getting really light headed and out of breath quite quickly, alongside some tightness starting in my chest. Again, I thought maybe it was down to weather/hayfever as everyone in work was complaining about the clammy heat.

Gradually throughout the week the hot sweats/getting light headed/tightness in chest started becoming more frequent and more intense. By Sunday I knew something else was going on and that I couldn't keep blaming the weather for my symptoms, therefore I went to my local out of hours Dr. I was in and out within 2 minutes with some amoxicillin tablets (antibiotics) which she prescribed saying she presumed I had an infection somewhere which was causing my symptoms. Can I just reiterate at this point that I have NEVER had any problems with my asthma, therefore I put my faith in the doctor and began taking the antibiotics that night.

On Monday morning I woke up and I couldn't catch a proper breath. When I was trying to talk to my boyfriend I felt like I was becoming breathless, therefore I did what the Dr had advised, took an antibiotic, my normal red morning inhaler and drove to work. By the time I had arrived at work (15 minutes from my house) I was seeing black spots and couldn't complete a sentence without feeling like I was going to pass out. I tried to tell my boss that something wasn't right, although at this stage my legs, feet, hands and lips had started getting pins and needles in them and I couldn't finish any sentences.

I panicked, I didn't know what was happening, my boss sent me home and I stupidly drove to my house as I didn't know what else to do. I wanted to be in my own surroundings. With the last bit of breath I could manage I rang my boyfriend and said "I think I need to go to the hospital"...he rushed home and within 20 minutes I was in my local A&E. I was taken right away, got bloods taken, blood pressure and heart rate was scarily high. The staff at the hospital were incredible - they gave me 8 steroid tablets, put me on a nebulizer and told me I was taking an acute asthma attack. It took another 2 nebulizers and 2 hours for me to be able to complete a sentence to speak properly to a doctor.

I was told they were checking for a blood clot in my lung alongside the asthma attack as I wasn't experiencing any wheezing/cough. The words 'asthma attack' had been spoken about in reviews but hadn't paid much attention because I had never had a problem, therefore I could never comprehend what a life altering experience it would be.

Three days on I am an emotional and physical wreck. I am exhausted due to not sleeping out of fear it will happen again, I am having to take my Symbicort inhaler up to 6 times per day rather than 2, check my peak flow and try to stop the multiple panic attacks from bringing on another asthma attack. The worst thing is I don't know what caused the attack to come on in the first place or if it will ever happen again. This means that something I was able to control for 26 years is now controlling me and there's nothing I can do about it.

Sorry for this long post - I'm hoping others can talk about this with me and share their experiences/give any advice as to what helped them if they have been though this, because at the minute I am no longer the bubbly, fun girl I used to be less than a week ago. I am now an emotional wreck who is terrified of being alone.

Last edited by

16 Replies

  • hi nicola,

    I just stumbled across your post and had to send a quick reply. I don't have asthma - but my 6 year old daughter has. However, I have had the severe panic attacks you talk of and I really want to reach out and try and help with those.

    I used a technique by the (late) Dr Claire Weeks (google her and anxiety) and that made a lot of sense. Also - look to your wider life - work life balance etc. Things that you are 'putting up with' can start the drip drip of discomfort that eventually leads to panics arising.

    Please don't despair. Despair is part of the vicious cycle. You can be better practised with this in time. Be patient with yourself. Seek help for the anxiety.

    I too am scared of my wee girl having more attacks but I guess we got to keep faith in the meds and supervised control etc. Remember too that the steroids cause anxiety themselves! Be kind and give yourself a metaphorical hug.

    K x

  • Hi there, I'm only 13 years old and I was only diagnosed with asthma 2 years ago when they finally realised I had been living with it my whole life without anyone knowing. I am a competitive swimmer who swims 5 times a week at 2 hours for each session. I completely understand how you feel, I do land training before swimming and one time after land training I was abnormally out of breath, I told my coach and she suggested I sit out for a bit however I was stupid and naive enough to think I could swim, so I swam. I did a few lengths and then couldn't get my breath, I couldn't speak I suddenly felt so tired. When I got out and took my inhaler I was so scared, I never wanted to swim again, or do any kind of exercise for that matter, but you really needn't worry. This happened when I was 11 and I'm now 13 and nothing has happened since, I don't get out of breath, sometimes I do but this is when I'm doing miles, which is normal. I was like you are now, afraid, tentative, not wanting to be alone, but trust me keep taking all your medication and now that's it's happened once, if you ever get the same sort of symptoms you will know why and you can take your inhaler. It may take you a while to recover because it is an extremely traumatising situation, but always keep your inhaler with you because you never know what may happen. Also, when I had an asthma attack, I didn't feel like eating but you do need to eat, a bit more than normal really to keep your body as normal. Please don't let this put you down, you will recover in no time at all and to be honest, you have been very lucky not to have had one before. I hope this has helped and please get well soon x

  • Hi mm not having a go but you are not allowed on this site as the minimum age is 16, I have had to report your post and the admins will send you details of more age appropriate sites for you and make sure you are ok. x

  • But thank you for your heartfelt reply to Nicola, I am a lot older than her and experienced a similar attack a few weeks ago. You are a very articulate person for your age and anyone who read this will have been reassured by your words, despite your age ... xx

  • I agree that it was a very good reply and s/he sounded much more mature than 13. It's a shame that the rules state all HU users have to be at least 16 to be allowed on any site here. x

  • I can sympathise with you. I was ten years symptoms free with my asthma then I got a virus and bam I've had three asthma attacks since April.

    Its hard getting over an acute flare up when you've been so well controlled before that. It will take time and perserverance. Unfortunately you may have some set backs but by the sounds of it you have a great team at A&E (believe me that is something we would all give anything for).

    Take your time is the most important thing and listen to your body. You know it best despite what the docs sometimes say.

  • You need to get a grip with this. Modern medication is very effective in dealing with the attack itself, but there is nothing that can modify your terror except you. The more you talk to people with asthma, the more you find out about the condition, the more you will understand how about 5 million people live with this. Many of us have the occasional flare up, and it is frightening but it does get better and you will get better. Now you know what you might experience the next time, you will know when it is time to call 999 or get to A&E - such as when you cannot get a simple sentence out. Your GP may give you steroids to keep at home in case another attack happens and you can deal with it yourself in the first instance. All kinds of help is available.

    Like many conditions asthma is not necessarily caused by stress, but it is made much worse by it, and while I completely understand why you are so frightened, (been there, written my will) you have to find a way to get over this fear because fear itself will make you worse. The nurse at Asthma UK is on hand to help, the asthma nurse at your GP's surgery will help, your GP should help. Your asthma is individual to you and once you get to know it, you can get back to its being under your control and not really bothering you. Please don't be afraid any more. You are getting better now - and you can deal with this. The bubbly girl will return, honest!

  • Hey,

    I've just come across your post and I know exactly where you are coming from, the same thing happened to me last Sunday, the week of heat before had meant my asthma had already been playing up, I had a terrible cough all week and was very tired, i went to the doctors and they put me on a round of steroids which I finished on the Friday, Sunday during the day I was absolutely fine then bam all of a sudden I was having coughing fits one after the other and when I tried to phone my neighbour for help I couldnt even get the words out I was so breathless. I was taken to an out of hours medical centre where they diagnosed me with a chest infection and put me on more steroids and antibiotics. Like you I am a healthy 24yo who's asthma has been well managed up to this point, but when that happened on Sunday I've never been more scared than I was then. I was signed off work for the week, and my fiancé also has asthma so I thought he would understand that I needed to take it easy, but I think it's one of those things where it has to happen to you for you to sympathise with the person.

    Hope this helps you know that your not alone.

    Well wishes,

    B x

  • Hi Beth,

    It's been a week from my attack and I'm still off work (that will be two weeks in total I'll have been off). I'm still suffering from pains and tightness and a cough as developed which is getting me down. It's honestly the most horrible thing I've ever been through, the breathlessness is terrifying, I'm sorry to hear you've experienced it too. I completely agree with regards to the sympathy thing, my boyfriend and I live together and whilst he himself doesn't suffer from asthma, and he is being supportive, it's something that no one will unfortunately understand unless it happens to them. He keeps asking me my peak flow and making tea, but it's frustrating me even more because I just want to get back to normal, I don't want him fawning after me and treating me like a patient lol!

    I hope you start feeling better asap. I'm just taking things day by day at the minute. I'm starting to feel a little more human, but it's definitely small steps!

    Nicola x

  • Hey Nicola,

    The one thing I had to learn after an attack several weeks ago, is to have patience. Also to rest and I do mean rest! Very frustrating but your body needs time to recover. This was my first attack in 6 years and I didn't see it coming. It was very scary and I wondered if the coughing would ever stop, bit it has. Use your blue inhaler whenever you need to, mine always causes me to become anxious but it passes.

    Let your man take care of you, he just wants to feel useful in a situation he has no experience of. You're not losing your independence, you're just letting him care for you.

    Chest tightness is completely normal, even after the initial attack. Coughing and anxieties are all part of it, unfortunately one exacerbates the other, but believe me it does settle down.

    Best wishes,


  • Thanks Paula,

    I really hope you start to feel better soon! It's been just over 2 weeks from my attack and *touch wood* the tightness of the chest has all but gone, I'm not having to take my steroid inhaler any more than I normally had to (twice at night and twice in the morning) and I've started back to work...things seem to be going in the right direction!

    It seems to be one of those things that the fear will never leave once you've experienced it! Hopefully you'll feel better very soon!

    Nicola x

  • Hi Nicola, do you know if you are allergic to penicillin? As I found out after taking it that I cannot take this with my asthma as it made my breathing worse. You will get back to being your normal self soon it will just take time and rest xx

  • Hi Helen,

    Nope I'm not allergic to anything as far as I'm aware!

    Thank you! It's been 1 week and I'm starting to feel a lot more human, especially from I finished the steroids (which completely drained me and brought on HORRENDOUS anxiety attacks!)

    Nicola x

  • Aww bless you Nicola! I'm glad your starting to feel better now :) oh no! I've had steriods before and I try to steer clear of them now if doctors offer them as I could barely fall asleep on them it was so strange! Glad to hear your on the mend xx

  • Hello

    I am so sorry to hear about your experience. When you went to see your own GP did she listen to your chest or take your peak flow reading? It sounds like something that was building for a while.

    Personally, I have suffered with Asthma since the age of 7yrs. The worst years were my teens and in my 20's. Had several Hospital admissions, lost most of my Schooling and witnessed my own mother die in a nasty Asthma attack. From my own experience and from listening to other Asthmatics everyone's Asthma is different. It is up to you to try and manage it. <Sorry I know this last statement may sound harsh but it is true> When you go to the Doctor's give them as much information about how you are suffering, what affected you on a certain time day. Keep a diary. For me my Asthma is rain induced. This is a new event I never had problems in the past when it rains but now I notice that my allergies get worse and I have to use the inhaler alot more.

    30 years ago I was told that I would never come off taking the Steroid Tablets every day. When I had my children 21yrs ago I came off the tabs. I was symptom free up to 6 yrs ago & needed to take tabs and inhalers again

    The best piece of advice I can give you is: do not be afraid to ask questions when you see any medic about your chest. Ask your GP to refer you to a Chest Specialist to get a firm diagnosis of what is going on. Due to the cutbacks GP's are reluctant to get people referred but if you can do try and get to see someone who specialises in this field. If you are in the South East Area I would strongly advise the Brompton Hospital. They do great work and have all the knowledge. Have you been tested for Allergies? During this Summer Grass Pollen in July was very high and does affect Asthmatics.

    The very best of luck I hope you get it sorted.

  • Hi,

    Thank you for your reply. I live in Northern Ireland and I can honestly say that the local hospital A&E team were incredible with me last week. They were far better unfortunately than my GP nurse who I went to see on Friday (I took the asthma attack on 25th July, seen GP nurse on 29th July) who didn't check my peak flow or blood pressure. She took one look at me, said that I was "anxious" and sent me on my way. I would count myself as an intelligent person, everyone is with regards to their own body. When I explained that OF COURSE I'm anxious due to what happened, she said she would see me this coming Friday for another "review" to ensure the attack wasn't going to come back again.

    I completely agree it's up to every individual to see what makes our symptoms worse and they will change from time to time. I'm going to start an asthma diary to see what seems to trigger it!

    I hope you're keeping well :)!

    Nicola x

You may also like...