Is this your experience?

Hello Everyone. I would really appreciate your advice please. I'm a 55 year old female who was diagnosed with asthma seven years ago and I'm on Symbicort 200 as preventer and reliever.

My asthma manifests itself in that if I'm doing anything energetic I'm puffing and get out of breath, to the extent that others pass comment. If I climb two flights of stairs I'm the same and I can't hold a conversation when I get there.

But then I have other episodes that bother me more and they all happen when I am seated and so both physically and mentally relaxed. I will suddenly feel like someone has sucked half the air out of the room and I'm struggling to breath what's left, my chest feels tight, I feel light-headed, my legs go weak, I feel trembly and my voice is affected as if my throat is constricted. My heart doesn't seem to be beating rapidly. I use my inhaler and the breathing starts to ease but the other symptoms take longer to dissipate. After the breathing has calmed, I feel so fatigued that sometimes I find it hard to stay awake.

There are no obvious triggers for any of these episodes, they happen anywhere. The only common denominator is that I'm sat down and relaxing. My mind isn't worrying, in fact its usually distracted from thinking as I'm often reading a book when it happens.

Do other people experience similar asthma episodes? (I won't call them 'attacks' because I know that many people have much more severe symptoms than mine which warrant the term.) Or is this something else like anxiety? Although I've had anxiety attacks in the past and they have been much more severe in symptoms - racing pulse, rapid breathing, irrational thoughts - than those I've described.

If anyone can help I'd be really grateful. Thanks very much.

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8 Replies

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  • Hmmm. That's an interesting set of symptoms. We'll need someone to reply that knows both about panic attacks and asthma.

    You said you were diagnosed 7 years ago, how was the diagnosis confirmed? Are you allergic and what are your triggers?

  • THank you for your reply green 881. I think the asthma must have come on gradually because I was aware that I soon got puffed out but it was the fatigue that finally took me to the docs. They did a number of tests, including sending me to Cardiology at the hospital and I think it was them who finally diagnosed it. I don't have any allergies and I have no triggers I've been able to identify. These episodes happen anywhere - in a meeting at work, sat in a library reading, sat at my table at home typing etc.

    My blood pressure tends to be on the low side and I wondered if it drops more when I'm relaxed and this then triggers off an episode.

    Interestingly, my mother was diagnosed with asthma about three years before me and my maternal grandmother also had breathing issues.

  • Have you done spirometry testing to confirm the asthma diagnosis? With onset of asthma so late in life I think you really want to be certain, my understanding is that such late adult onset is rare. Asthma is familial for sure, both my sister and I have it ... but onset was young probably age 5 for both of us.

  • I think you need to get this checked out as from your description this may not just be asthma .

    The breathlessness from physical exertion may be down to something as simple as lack of fitness , but your other symptoms are puzzling .

  • I can sympathise on both counts, I can feel as breathless sitting and relaxing as I can getting up stairs. I find myself almost gasping to get a breath in. I find it happens after I've shut myself in a room and totally relaxed. During the day all the doors are open and I go about my daily chores, but in the evening when I close the doors and settle down to watch some telly I find it starts then. I wonder if it is because I am so relaxed that possibly my throat and airways are too. I too can then fall asleep or nana nap as hubby calls it x

  • Well you probably have exercise induced asthma which would give you the out of breath feeling after climbing stairs. There is quite a lot of info on the internet regarding this. The other episodes I have no idea about.

  • You really do need a thorough check at your GP's. Take someone with you if you can - it helps to talk about it afterwards. If you feel you are being fobbed off, ask for a 2nd opinion. Your symptoms are probably not serious, but you must check just in case they are. Testing is quite sophisticated nowadays and can reveal a lot.

  • Thank you for all your advice. I've booked an appointment with my GP.

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