Asthma and exams

Hi everyone,

I don't usually post on here but recently my asthma has gotten out of control and with exams coming up it couldn't have come at a worse time. I've had quite a few attacks in the past few months and have been in and out of hospital. I'm 18 and my exams are starting next week I've been keeping up with taking all my medicine and recently started a new preventer inhaler (seretide 2puffs twice a day), prednisolone (2 week course) and montelukast tablets but nothing seems to be helping! I've been booked an appointment for the respiratory specialist but that isn't until July, a month after my exams finish! I was hoping someone had some advice on what else I could do to try and gain back control over my asthma. I also wanted to know if anyone's here has tried natural remedies to try and cure their asthma? I've done some research on it and it sounds a bit out there but at this point I'm willing to try anything. If anyone has any advice for me I'd really appreciate it! My biggest fear at the moment is I end up missing one of my exams or just perform terribly in one :/

Thank you,

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  • Have you talked to your school, GP, asthma nurse etc about your concerns and current exacerbations of asthma? Is possible there are plan in place for students who miss exams due to chronic health conditions out of their own control?

    As for your asthma itself, stress and anxiety can have a big impact on how our asthma affects us. You are coming up to a really stressful time and that will impact upon your breathing. Remember to take calm easy breathes not short gasping ones. Try to take time out to do something you find relaxing and that will take your mind off your exams for a little while (easier said then done I know).

    For herbal rememdies, there probably are things out there that people have found useful. however the thing you must remember is that you must check with your consultant doctor or asthma nurse before commencing anything as you don't know how it will interact with your current medications.

    There is unfortunately no cure for asthma but we can get to a state where we are known as "symptom free", but that doesn't mean the asthma is gone only that it is not currently giving you symptoms.

    I hope you get sorted and hope all goes well with your exams?

  • Thank you for your advice! I didn't really think of herbal remedies interacting with my current medicine so thanks for the warning I'll be sure to ask my Gp

  • No problem, I hope you get sorted

  • Yeah, tough one. I'm sure it doesn't help to know that stress aggravates it. On the other hand it really doesn't affect your head, and the pred might make you more alert.

    With me asthma is always a bunch of trial an error, when you find the right mix it suddenly clears out. Things to try:

    During an attack, this might sound funny, but a nice cup of tea always helps a bit. Regular, herbal or even hot water. Deep breathing exercise like they say in ACBT I like the one where you breathe out slowly through pursed lips emptying your lungs. It seems to relax the airways a touch and gives a chance for albuterol (Ventolin) to work.

    Then of course you can switch meds. Individuals have different sensitivities to the various ICS and LABAs out there, both the ingredient and the delivery form. So you can try Qvar + Serevent instead of Seretide, or even Fostair, or generics. You can also try powdered (diskus) forms vs inhaled. Personally I never liked the powders but some people do really well on them. In the US they do Prednisone rather than Prednisilone not sure there is much difference.

    In any event you need to take it dilligently for at least a week to see if it is having an effect before it's worth changing. in your case i definitely would not stop suddenly if you get better insist on tapering schedule for both the pred and inhaled drugs. If you manage to get off pred and LABA I'd recomend Qvar 40 twice a day throughout your entire exam schedule. Take your Ventolin into the exam with you and maybe some hot drink and hopefully you will ace!

  • Thanks for the help I really appreciate it! :) I'll deffo try the tea and breathing exercises. I'm not sure if my doctor would switch my meds since she's only changed it recently but I'll be sure to remember your advice if I do switch meds.

  • She will switch if you tell her it's not effective but you got to give it at least a week and don't miss any doses.

  • Hello, Sophie. I would just concentrate on your breathing while your new mess have time to kick in. The Buteyo (?) method is good for me, and helps stress too. Briefly, always keep your mouth closed while breathing (as far as poss of course -eating and talking allowed!) A long session with mouth closed tho helps me in times of trouble. Breath using your abdomen muscles, which act on your diaphragm, pulling air into your lungs, rather than lifting your shoulders to breathe. I breathe in to count of 5 and out to count of 8. Then on about every third or fifth breath out, when lungs are empty, hold your breath for 3 seconds, then resume breathing. This can be advanced to 5 seconds if asthma not playing up too much. It's supposed to re-set the carbon dioxide in your lungs. Sounds complicated but easier to do. A hour or two doing this helps me a lot. It just becomes a habit. Always do it before sleep too. During exacerbations I do it for hours, keeps me out of hospital! Mouth closed remember! Good luck with your exams 🍀 x

  • Thanks for the advice! I'm definitely going to try this breathing exercise hopefully it will help!

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