Does it ever get better?

I am a 46 year old female that was diagnosed with asthma 4 years ago even though probably always had a very mild case looking back. Things blew up in the fall that year being exhausted with three young kids and have never been the same except for a glorious remission of symptoms for an 8 month period. My main symptoms are chest tightness and inability to satisfy the breath. No coughing or wheezing. Summer and fall allergies are the worst but now winter seems bad too. I have tried three different inhalers. Flovent, symbicort and alvesco and ventolin seems to not help that questions are - has anyone struggled a long time to then finally get relief with the right medicine? I am losing hope. Also because I constantly struggle to get the breath I find it impossible not to get anxious. A lot of the time I am in panic mode and then wonder if my anxiety over not breathing is making things worse. So when I am in a bad spell I wonder if along with finding the perfect inhaler that an antidepressant or anti anxiety med would help? Even though the thing making me crazy is not breathing?? Of course my o2 sat are usually ok and dr looks at me as if I am not as bad as I feel. Any advice? I am exhausted from struggling to breath and become an anxious mess. Also allergy shots? Thanks for listening!!

24 Replies

  • Hi the inhalers you mention should be helping to control your asthma and I can't understand why so many of them don't. Do you have a regular asthma review with a nurse at your surgery? Is your inhaler technique checked regularly? If not then I think you should make an appointment to check this. Also your pharmacist can help too.

    The second thing is that as I am sure you know anxiety can make your symptoms worse. There are a lot of breathing exercises available online for both asthma and anxiety sufferers. Have a look at those. Start using them as they will help a lot when you are extra breathless. x

  • Thank u coughalot I will look up the breathing exercises and give them a go. I will also look into the other things you mention. I am frustrated that I have not found best one as I read that usually people do. My test scores show improvement but I still struggle. Humidity allergies seem to be biggest triggers. Stress ensues from being uncontrolled and struggling to breathe. Gets to be a cycle. Thank u so much for ur help.

  • You are very welcome and I hope I have helped a bit. x

  • I too find anxiety over not being able to breathe increases the tightness. I am wary of taking tablets like anti depressants or beta blockers as I feel that the mind is a really powerful medicine if you train it to think the way you need it to. For example You already know you're allowing yourself to get anxious, so you have insight. All you need to do next is stop, listen, and talk yourself back. Tell yourself, this is anxiety, you will breathe.

    I am also struggling to find the right inhaler. I am about to start on symbicort.

  • Hi jgreen thanks for the reply. I too am wary of the anxiety meds especially since it is the out of control asthma that is making me anxious. I will try as u say to keep myself calm as best I can. Have u tried other inhalers without success too? Which ones? I really hope the symbicort helps you.

  • Thank you so much for your reply. It means so much. I will look up the breathing exercises. And give them a try.

  • You mention you have allergies these could be making your asthma worse I take an anti histamine every day to keep allergies at bay

  • Thank you chip y2 Kuk I do take antihistamines in fall and summer my worst times but maybe I should all year? Have you ever tried allergy shots? Thank you so much!

  • My total ige was three times what was acceptable

    And the doctor said initially take an anti histamine over the counter but I emptied the bin on the hoover and gave myself a case of rhinitis from the dust so after suffering for a week I called my gp and he was astounded that I hadn't been given something stronger and gave me fexofenadine 180mg and said take one of them every day now my asthma seems better

  • Hi sorry to hear your not getting any better. As coughalot 2 mentionssee your asthma nurse at the Gp she should be able to help. I have had my inhalers changed so many time but my last lit was to Oxis 12 and qvar which were brilliant for 12 years then I started the 'can't get my breath' I have since had a really bad attack with this flu virus and ended up in hospital. The y changed me again (which I was worried about) to fosair. I'm still new to it but fingers x all good. I hope you get the right inhaler cos they don't suit everyone. Plus I'm on montelucast tabs which help

  • Hi suspect1 thanks so much. I was thinking of trying car next so the news that it was one episode helpful to you is great to hear. I get so discouraged that I hear some inhalers are life changers for others but don't help me. Just out of curiosity what else did you try that did not work? It would help me to see that maybe eventually I will find that magic one. I used to take montelucast maybe I will start again. Summers are so bad for me past two years. Thank you again. I have been feeling hopeless and you helped.

  • Awe bless thats nice of you. I do hope you find the right ones. I have taken simbercort (my spelling not the best) also a brown one I can't remember the name. I found the ones I have tried work until I start waking up in the night I think right time for a change oxis12 and qvar were the longest I tried for 12 years, as you can take more of one if you get a cold. But the nurse has said the fostair is the new and most effective one. I also came if montelucast bit went back in them. I also take anti hystamines every couple of days and they help. I do hope you find the one and wish you the best.

  • Asthma has so many factors. As said sounds like a big allergy factor. Lots that can be tried not just anti histamine also montelukast and nasal sprays. Also at our age hormones are a factor ( peri menopause). Maybe a double GP appointment and a consultation referral?

  • Hi quietchest. Thanks so much for the reply. I have been feeling hopesless lately and it sure helps. You mentioned hormones and I have been wondering about this did you end up doing anything that helped you in that area? A noticeable difference to asthma? I was going to get the levels checked as I have read that they can play a role and that these kind of things ramp up in perimenopause. I have done antihistamines but maybe I need to do all year. Have you ever tried allergy shots? Thanks so much again.

  • i have been bad asthamatic since child. I get good treatment here in New Zealand, although things are not as good as they were in the 80s, oddly enough. My drugs are:

    1 To open the airways i have a nebuliser ( you need a good quality one, pay a bit more, and avoid the el cheapo ones) and into it i put ventolin nebules and atrovent, twice a day. it is time-consuming. The purpose of this is to open the airways

    2 Then I take to puffs of flixitide ( fluticasone I think it is) thru a spacer, whcih is a local steroid and is primarliy a preventer, although contrary to what they say, it does also have some on the spot treatment value as well.

    3 thirdly i take 5 mls of ventolin syrup, and u can immediately feel the effect of this as well. take no more than 5 mls

    4. I then pick up my peak flow and make try hard, ( say 5 times) to blow 300. I try to keep to achieve this because althpugh its rather low and pathetic, it is enough for me to go about my day.

    5 I used to blow 610, i am tall, and was an athlete and strong tennis player and a pilot, so now with this chronic life-long asthma my lungs are damged and i can only blow half, so that is a big drop. 300 allows me to walk freely, but never jog, ever, and it is far far better than 150.

    6 I am also prescribed prednisone coiurses, but i try not to take that. it will settle the adthma but the ashtma returns, and one cant live on prednisone without it affecting the adrenals. It had all sorts of bad effects, no point in going into them here, you can look them up is very important to open the airways with ventolin so you can get the local steroid ( the flixitide) molecules down as far in to trhe lungs as possible

    you need to study up on the anatomy and physiology of the lungs, and take charge of your illness. the dpctors think they know, but if they are not asthamtics themselves its really hard for them to know too much.

    good luck

  • Hi bess7771. Thanks so much for the advice. I have been wondering about using the ventolin before steroid good to know it helps you. Also the albuterol does not always seem so effective for me I was also thinking of asking for a formula with the atrovent as I have had that at hospital in nebuliser. I guess that combo med is better? Also I am curious about the ventolin syrup. I am in us not sure if I can get here but seems like it helps you? Also did it take you a while to find the right inhaler? So frustrating I like you used to be so much more active. Do you struggle day to day or do you experience times of remission? How long has your current regimen worked for you? Thanks so much taking the time to share your experience is very helpful to me at a down time.

  • my reply was intended for wings 123

  • my asthma as a child until i was 40, came in sort of attacks, building up over couple days and then recovering to full 600 peak flow. but after 40 it changed to become chronic and i was no longer able to conceal it (eg for medicals) , I guess thru lung damage, and the peak flow dropped to a permanent low. real frustrating and hugely affecting my life

  • Hi,

    I am now 67 and have lived with asthma for 37 years. Like you when I first had it I went into what I now call panic mode. Which made thinks ten times worse. I was in and out of hospital, feeling like a guinea pig with the trialing of different drugs, coping with a full time job, looking after two children and an elderly relative. Then after one bad episode someone suggested "try yoga"' yea I thought what a load of twaddle. Well I did try it, luckily I found a proper yoga teacher who was very empathetic with all his patients and gave me specific breathing a relaxation techniques to use. I found these helped tremendously, in fact putting things back in perspective - I could control my breathing. I only did a six week course, never been back but still use the techniques today when I have panic attacks and feel like my throat has closed up.

    So, all I can say is stress will and does make things worse. Anti-depressants may be the answer but if you can not go down that root it would be better for you. Do you have a practice nurse who you feel confident enough to talk to, so hospitals have Asthma groups where you can chat with other people and when you realise that most of us have been there at some time or other it makes you feel better. Accept that you have Asthma, accept that you will find the right medication for you and relax, put on you favourite cd, have a cup of coffee, make time for you. If money is not too tight, treat yourself to a back massage (not forgetting to tell them what you are allergic to) I find this absolutely one of the best relaxation methods for me.

    Sorry if I have rambled on a bit but I just felt you needed someone to talk to who has been there, done that and still wearing the tee shirt.

    Best wishes

  • Thank you Lynalycia it really does help hearing from you. I have felt so hopeless lately. I hear that most people find that great medication that helps them. I am better than when I first started all this and test scores indicate improvement but I still struggle almost daily. Most affected by stress, allergies and humidity. Also taking care of 3 young kids and working just exhausted. I will look into the yoga. Was there a certain style that helped you? Also as far as stress my biggest problem is when the asthma is not under control and all day struggling to breathe. The ventolin helps slightly but does not take the feeling completely away. Summers are horrible. I do take antihistamines probably be worse without them but they dont cure it. When in a flare I feel like I'm not going to get the next breath then panic of course makes it worse. I basically am calming myself all day telling myself that this has happened many times and it calms down. Sometimes I avoid going places when bad as I feel like I won't be able to get help if I need it. Pure misery. The times when I have been able to breathe or am having a good breathing day I am not stressed out at all. I think maybe it is important to find the next inhaler. What med finally worked for you? Sounds like you had a time finding the right one too? You have given me some hope. Thank you!!!!!

  • Thanks for your response. I hope this is not against the rules but the type of yoga I wa taught was from

    They have some information on their web site which is extremely helpful and useful for anyone with any sort of illness and not "out there" like everything, taken in moderation.

    I am afraid the only thing that sorted my asthma out was steroids, and I have now been on these for 37 years with the terrible side effects that cone with them. However, they are the best treatment for bringing bad attacks under control. Medication has improved so much in the last 37 years, that they do not normally leave people on steroids but at one point I was on 80mgs per day and in hospital every few week with a bad attack. Still that is in the past. I have my own nebuliser which I use when I get a very heavy cold, as these trigger off an attack, a very understanding doctor who insists I have antibiotics. I also have brobchiectasis which aggravates things. So you asked what drugs I am on, well 2.5 msg of prednisone, Arythramycin 1 tab three times a week, ventalin and serevent. Now this is what works for me. From reading your messages you do not seem to have the right set up for you. I reiterate what others have said, talk to your practice nurse or asthma nurse, quietly tell your go that you do not feel the medication is working for you and the biggest think relax more. I know harder to do with young children but enjoy them. Take comfort in them if you feel your breathing is bad, do some painting with them, activities that involve sitting down, reading. Buy some fairy cakes from the supermarket and those icing pens, you will have a laugh and relax. Sorry I'm waffling again, but I hate to feel you are suffering so much.

  • I'm not medically qualified and I have only your entry to go on, but it seems to me that you need to separate the anxiety and the asthma. You've got yourself in a vicious circle where each one makes the other worse. Obviously you need to be tested for allergies and take medication/vaseline up your nose or whatever to deal with the problem, and find an inhaler which controls your condition. Those jobs belong to the medics. You have had 'a glorious remission' so you can have it again.

    However, you also need a break. Is there any way you can offload all the responsibilites you have for just a few days to find calm? An evening or a day won't necessarily do it. You need to slow right down. Think things through, list your worries - there are never as many as you thought there were. Find a time and place to relax, to be in the moment, without thinking about what you have to do when you get back. Maybe find someone to talk to, to help you untangle things. I know it is easier to write than do, but it can be done, honest.

    Good luck.

  • Thank you Christie moms for the reply. I am in a vicious cycle. When I have managed to have some control over the asthma my anxiety goes away. Otherwise when it is bad and I am basically struggling to catch my breath all day I panic. Like I spend all day trying to tell myself I have had bad times and come out of them but it is so hard to feel like I am going to get the next breath and panic starts. The ventilun helps some but does not take it away completely. When there are allergies or high humidity I have the worst times. I have been to therapy and want to go back that is a good idea. And I will try to follow your advice. I think a big part is finding the right med for me. I take antihitimines but feel that I have not found the perfect inhaler for me. Have you tried different inhalers? Or experienced times of remission like me? You have helped me greatly with ur kind words. Thank you.

  • Every new doctor I've met in my 50+ years of having asthma has a miracle cure which somehow never works for me. My asthma is manageable. That's the best I can say. I have quite a busy life for a retired person, but I know my limits. It's not always easy, but I can live quite happily with it. I hope you find the talking therapy works for you - it did wonders for me.

    All good wishes coming your way.

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