Strange asthma

Hi I have had asthma since I was 5 years old. I am now 64. The last few years my asthma has gotten worse -well I think it has. I have never been hospitalised and I have never been to a chest specialist. I have been on the same inhalers fir the last 18 years namely Foradil and Qvar and the last 5 years Antrim entry. My peak flow never goes higher than 150 but I can walk my dog who is anti-allergic about 2 miles every day. The weather affects me. If it is damp sometimes I can hardly walk. The mornings I am always breathless. I am afraid to go see a consultant in case there is something more seriously wrong with me but I think when I read other people's posts I have the strangest asthma. Sorry the other inhaler us Atrovent. Some days I don't need to take it other days I have to use it twice but normally the Foradil suffices. I also have a nebuliser but I don't use it much. Can anyone shed some light on my condition.

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  • Hi Aisling.

    I feel for you. Sounds like you worried these days with your asthma as you say you sort of wonder and feel that your asthma is getting worse over last few years.

    I'm 46, and my asthma is normally under control, but last 3 weeks it's been pretty bad.

    I'm no expert but i've had asthma all my life, and i can only give you my thoughts about what you've said.

    MY advice for you, is either make an appointment with your local Asthma nurse at your Doctors Surgery, or book an appointment to see a doctor and discuss how you are feeling and finding your asthma these days.

    My worse peak flow has been 295L/min, and your's is 150 L/min. That seems very low to me, but everyone is different.

    Q1. Have you ever had an asthma review and been to see your asthma nurse to discuss your current asthma situation and to discuss your current medication, and if it can be improved?

    I can understand that you maybe afraid to see a consultant in fear of hearing bad news. But if you don't do anything about your asthma your quality of life might be taking a back step. And you might be fine, and worrying about nothing. Fear can be a parlayzing thing.

    Your other option is phone the Asthma UK Helpline phone number, this is it here. 0300 222 5800. Here is a link to the contact line and opening times.

    asthma.org.uk/about/contact/

    And you will get to speak almost straight away depending how busy they are. I phoned them once today and twice yesterday and i got through almost straight away on all 3 occasions.

    My experience were an Asthma expert nurse who was helpful, understanding, and a qualified expert in the field of asthma. They listened to anything which i wanted to say about what i've been through with my asthma and i could share my feelings and tell them my concerns and questions which i had you which i hoped they would answer. I wanted to ask their advice before i contacted my duty doctor. There advice was so useful and informative to me.

    They were able to suggest possible different medication, new inhalers i should be trying, which could work better than the ones i was currently on. And they also suggestion another nebulising solution i could try to help with my asthma. I hadn't a clue there was a different nebulising solution that i could try. They also told me what else i need to be focusing on once my asthma is under control again. I don't have a an asthma action plan.. My local asthma nurse never suggested i fill one out with her, and i didn't know i should be asking her to do one with me.

    Today the asthma nurse on the phone number i proved for you on here. She suggested i ask my GP for a referral so i can see a specialist in asthma, respiratory specialist. I wouldn't have thought i could do that. As i don't consider myself as having serve asthma, normally my asthma has been under control. But because i've had a bad flare up with my asthma last 3 weeks, she says i shouldn't be using my nebuliser still everyday, that i should ask my GP for a specialist referral. So i will. :-)

    From me being on this amazing helpful website, and listening to other peoples experiences with asthma. That there are things in place for us asthma sufferers, which are there to help us live better with asthma. But the people in place don't always act Pro-active. That we ourselves need to be more pro-active with our asthma, and be a bit more pushy in order to help ourselves.

    Does that help any of what i've said? :-)

    We are here to help each other if we are able.

    Becky

  • Hi Becky thanks for your reply. A couple of years ago my blood pressure spiked abd I had to go to A. &E. I had a heart echo done because I seem to be breathless all the time but never wheezy. It came back fine. My doctor thought my breathlessness may be because of my heart. He then put it down to anxiety. I am a terrible worrier and suffer from panic attacks so I suppose that would add up. Anyway next time I am at his surgery I will ask him for a referral but he doesn't think my asthma us bad. Anyway compared to what I have been reading on this site I am not too bad at all. I just worry about my peak flow but even in the doctors it never goes any higher but I think he puts it all down to anxiety and worry.

  • I'm afraid that there's a of a blunt response from me on this one. Afraid to see a consultant in case you have something serious? Pardon me but you DO have something serious! You have asthma - which kills three people a day in the UK. Everyone is different, but a peak flow of 150 is very low. Being close to unable to walk is serious, being breathless every morning is serious. You ask for someone to shed some light for you, well the best person to do that is an appropriate clinician, who can listen to your story, and then arrange tests and assess the results. You're 64, so relatively young. It'd be a crying shame to get to 74 and then be told 'if only you'd seen a consultant at 64 you could have had 10+ years of relatively easy breathing and brilliant 5 mile walks every day with your dog!'. I'm 58 and have had asthma all my life, and changes in the weather affects me very badly too. And I have a dog, a good job and a wonderful family. I've found out recently that I have a 'significant shadow' on my latest chest X-ray. I've no idea what that might be as yet. However, hiding from it won't make it better, getting the best advice is without doubt my best chance. At 64 you'll have contributed a fair bit to the NHS - so now go get some value for your money! And don't worry, it'll all be alright in the end. And if right now it's still not alright then it's not yet the end!

  • Thank you Tim for being very blunt. I suppose the fact I have been on the same inhalers for nearly 20 years could be the reason. Actually on a positive note my asthma could be much much worse. I have a nebuliser which I seldom need. I was on a course of steroids in December for a chest infection but I had not needed any for years. I read through Web sites and I see people are on so many inhalers plus nebuliser plus steroids and I think I cannot be so bad. When I go abroad I can walk for miles it's the weather here makes me bad -damp weather in the west or Ireland. Maybe I am burying my head in the sand but my GP isn't keen on changing my inhalers and my peak flow has been low for years. My doctor says I have high anxiety and this could be causing my breathlessness because my heart is perfect.

  • Asthma and anxiety go together. If you can't breathe you have every right to feel a bit anxious about it. We all get a bit worked up and worried at times, but anxiety disorder happens when the chemical and electrical gubbins in our brains goes wonky. It is as real an affliction as an in-growing toenail - and every bit as treatable. There are all sorts of medications that can help anxiety symptoms, but the real treatment that does work is available too that doesn't require chemicals. It's there via the NHS, although you have to wait, but there are private providers too. If you're prepared to invest a few £hundred then your GP can get you a private referral and you'll be taking the first steps to beating the anxiety within a matter of days. Life's too short to put up with rotten stuff if there's something you can do about it. If the car needs £250 for the MoT, or the TV packs up, or the dog stubs his paw we find the money for professional help. So what's wrong with splashing out on professional services and get those anxious thoughts back in their box with the lid firmly locked?

  • Hi Tim well thank you. I think I need a kick in the ass and you have just done that. Since writing my post on this site I have spent the day googling symptoms for copd and emphysema which I don't have the symptoms I am happy to say. I am particularly breathless today because it is a bitch of a day outside it has never stopped raining and I had to go shopping in it but of course my mind was working overtime hence the breathlessness. I have done Mindfulness in the past and I found it great so I may go back for another course. I will visit my GP and get a referral just to be sure. I really do think a lot of my asthma is in my head!

  • I don't have a lot of time for Dr Google I'm afraid - very suspect and dodgy medical degrees at the University of Cyberspace! State of mind of course affects asthma - as it does all illnesses. You're a complete human being, with all systems interconnected. Good luck with the Mindfulness referral. We all only get one shot at this life, so we might as well give it our best. There's no doubt that you do have asthma, but it's down to you to make sure that asthma doesn't have you!

  • Thanks Tim!

  • Hi Aisling,

    I think Big Tim has given you some good advice. If you decide to go to a private specialist, if you are in the UK, my consultant is very good. He actually Trialled many of the drugs we are all using today, but left the NHS some years ago because he couldn't face it any longer. His name is Dr Brian O'Connor, London Chest Clinic and he is based at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in London. He charges 200 GBP for an appointment, and then any tests and spirometry are extra. I would call and and ask for advice about cost and how many appointments to allow for before you begin.

    However you can google him. If you can't get to London, and you book with a consultant, do make sure that Asthma is their number one specialty. One problem with NHS referrals, is that you can get referred to a consultant who's expertise is in other respiratory problems, and then they are not all that up to date on what's available in the Asthma world. Also they seem to think that everything stops with the lungs, i.e. don't consider Allergy problems, Acid Reflux, sinus issues or Auto immune disease all of which can have an effect on asthma.

    Sometimes Low Peak Flow can be about technique, so it may be that you need to have a proper spirometry work up. Drugs change there are a lot of other Asthma regimes that might suit you better.

    Also do look up the Butekyo method of breathing, it can be very helpful, although in my case not a cure. It certainly has improved my breathing.

    R

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