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Advice for a newbie welcome

I had my first asthma arrack 2 years ago, and have had nothing and not used an inhaler until a week last Sunday when symptoms started suddenly.

A trip to the doctors, an appointment with tgenpractoce nurse, and a session on a nebuliser, Prescription for prednisone a brown and blue inhaler,,and a confusing treatment plan and off I go.

A week later, I'm still struggling, have coughing fits not sure which inhaler is effective or how many puffs to use.

Is it me or is this a confusing condition to have, how do people manage sudden onset and then treat it?,

13 Replies

Hi & welcome to the forum.

Asthma is a very complex illness & takes time to understand what is happening & how to manage it, so don't worry - you're not alone there!

Both inhalers are effective, just in different ways. The most important one is the preventer, which builds your resistant over a long period of time; the other one helps relieve symptoms but generally has no long-term benefit.

Prednisolone is an emergency treatment to treat serious attacks.

In terms of inhaler dosage; the preventer (if you tell us what they are, we can tell you what they do) needs to be taken at regular intervals; once or twice a day, 1/2 puffs each time depending on the instructions from your GP). The reliever is to be taken as & when you need it.

I hope that helps a little.


Hi and thank you so much for your reassurance and guidance.

My inhalers are Beclometasone dipropionate (brown) and told to use 4 puffs twice a day, and salbutamol surfate (blue) when needed.

Am I right, I should be using the brown regularly?

My neighbour who was an asthma nurse some years advised I make an apt with my GP and discuss a more effective plan.

Are coughing fits something that will subside as my symptoms are more controlled?

Am feeling proper sorry for myself at the moment, I retired 2 weeks ago and was fit then. I now feel like a proper invalid,

Many thanks


Thanks for the info.

So, your brown inhaler is the preventer. Take that one regularly; your GP will have suggested 1 or 2 puffs; once or twice a day. Sometimes they tell you to increase that as part of a management plan if you feel symptoms developing. You won't notice any change to your breathing when you take it, it's for long-term protection.

The blue one is a reliever & should give you instant relief (to a point anyway) if you're short of breath, but has no long-term benefit.

All being well, & with a good treatment plan, you should get to a point where the symptoms will reduce significantly; they may not go altogether but you should start to see a real improvement.

I agree with your neighbour, with the exception that a specialist nurse will probably be a better person to see, as they have more time to talk through the plan & how to track your health.

If you haven't got a peak flow meter yet, that will be £5 well spent as well!


Hi Chrisbilly, I was taught breathing exercises years ago which helped enormously. Its basically concentrating on breathing out, to give lungs space to take more oxygen in. Because of spasms in the lungs our brains think we are short of oxygen so we start to hyperventilate. Try and get hold of a good asthma nurse to teach you different techniques to stop the panic taking over. Something else I find helpful is to lean over the back of a chair or sofa while doing these exercises. I used to have attacks at night and wake up fighting for breath. We don't need it do we ?


Ok get that, and continued use the symptoms should slowly become less, how long does it take? And is a cough typical of a symptom?

Will look online to see what a peak flow meter is,

Thank you again


Hi Chris, welcome to the forum.

Right, let's start with the inhalers. The blue one (known as ventolin) is what is known as a reliever inhaler and is used to relieve a flare up of asthma symptoms. In an individual with well controlled asthma it hardly ever needs to be used. When a flare up occurs you should feel some relief of your symptoms within twenty minutes of using one.

The brown inhaler will be what is called a preventer inhaler. This is what helps to keep your asthma under control. This has to be used on a daily basis even if your asthma is well controlled. The effectiveness of this is more accumulative so it can take a while to kick in. Never ever use this inhaler as a reliever, that is not its purpose. There are many different types of preventer inhaler and it can take a while to find the right one for a newly diagnosed asthmatic. If you have been taking this for a week along with your other inhaler and prednisolone and things are still difficult it might be an idea to contact your surgery, explain the situation and ask for advice or an appointment to discuss things as soon as possible. Asthma can become a serious condition if not brought under control, and from what you have described yours isn't yet.

The treatment plan should tell you how much to use of each inhaler and when to take them. If it doesn't you need to talk to the person who originally wrote it out for you.

Do you have a peak flow metre? If not, ask for one to be prescribed. A peak flow metre used on a daily basis will help you to understand the status of your condition and will also serve to warn you when things might be beginning to get out of control. Your doctor, asthma nurse or pharmacist can explain to you how to use one.

To help with the cost of all these prescriptions it's worth looking into the prepayment certificate scheme. These can be purchased online on an annual or quarterly basis (an annual one costs around £104) and once you have one means that you don't have to pay any more for your prescriptions for the period covered by it.

I'm sure everything does seem rather confusing at the moment, particularly if your condition is still causing problems, but once you have it under control it is possible to lead a pretty normal life.

Hope some of this helps:-).


As an aside to anything asthma, is your username anything to do with Huddersfield Town legend Chris Billy?


You asked about coughing. It's my main symptom. I don't, touch wood, generally have problems breathing, though I probably get more out of breath than I used to before I started with asthma. However I can cough for England. The blue inhaler stops the bad coughing session quickly, but if I keep getting the occasional but regular cough I know to increase my preventer for a while. Hope that helps.


Am grateful for all the advice I can get,'and this forum is proving very supportive, so thanks. I was awake coughing in the night and struggled to get any relief from either inhaler.

Feeling proper low and sorry for myself today,


Hi Chrisbilly

Good to hear you're feeling supported. If you would like more advice and support then please feel free to give our nurses team a ring on 0300 222 5800 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). They'll be able to talk you through taking your inhalers. There's also more information here about inhalers:

Take care, Dita


Thank you so much Ashtma uk, I've just had the most amazing conversation with a nurse, she was supportive, offered me a plan, and gave me the space to reflect on my symptoms after steroids and now on antibiotics.

I now also understand more about inhalers, spacers, peak flow and the use of such should I need to in an emergency.

They are truly Angels x


Just saw your post - and again I'm frustrated. How many times to people post (on multiple forums in multiple countries) that are new or unsure about asthma - they have encounters with health care professionals and don't get clear instructions or resources how to move forward. Happens all the time so I'm thinking it's not just the patients ;-)

Anyhow my 2 pence is you should take the brown inhaler 2puffs twice a day (unless you could find other written instruction from the doctor). Make sure you are using the spacer correctly. Keep taking it even if you feel fine.

Call back tomorrow and make an appointment to go back and see if you should go on combination LABA (like Fostair/Symbicort) as you come off the prednisone. I would keep taking the brown inhaler 2puffs twice a day until you've had that appointment it is much milder than pred. At the appointment discuss treatment plan, taper etc. Better safe than sorry during another more severe attack.

Frankly I'm a little suspicious about the combination of meds you've been given but I don't know all the details of your symptoms and infection you had. So that is what you get for 2 pence on the interweb.

I'm also glad to see we have the only Huddersfield Town supporter in the entire universe active on this forum.


Hi, first of all stay calm. Easier said than done.

Normally brown is a regular inhaler Normally taken everyday and blue as and when needed. The brown is a preventor, so to prevent asthma attacks and blue is immediate prevention.

If you are unsure of your treatment the best thing to do is go back to the doctors and ask them to go over your action plan.

My local hospital also has respiratory outreach support service, which could help. It's called a ROCKET team. Check your local hospital


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