Struggling to come to terms with asthma - Asthma UK communi...

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Struggling to come to terms with asthma


Had my first severe asthma attack aged 55 in Torquay on holiday in hospital for four days. Now i am struggling to come to terms with being on drugs for possibly the rest of my life.finding it very difficult to find out if i will ever get back to any kind of fitness.

19 Replies

All this will depend almost entirely on how severe your asthma is and how much it is controlled. There are many professional sports people who have asthma and who are very fit. They still have to take meds for life though.

On the other hand for those who are more severe it's more difficult. The majority of people after a certain age end up on meds for life and many younger ones do too. Just be grateful those meds are there for us as it would be much worse if they weren't! x

Hi phillifrance, welcome to the forum.

I'm sure at the moment you are feeling pretty rough; your lungs have had a quite a shock and it will take them a bit of time to recover. This is all very new to you and it's completely understandable that you are finding it hard to come to terms with all this.

Let's start with the medication. Yes, you may need to be on meds for the rest of your life, but believe me, those meds can make such a difference.

I developed asthma when I was just three years old (I'm now 56). Back in the 1960s the medical profession was almost in denial about the existence of asthma and a lot of people who had the condition (including children) were not correctly diagnosed. I was eventually diagnosed aged eight and a half, but I have some fairly vivid memories of what is was like to be an untreated asthmatic. I used to wake up wheezing or coughing at night, my mother used to get up to sit me on her lap and then rub my back to try to get me to relax so that my breathing was easier. Not surprisingly I was often tired at school; I had a short attention span; I was very shy and had very little confidence. Then eventually I got the correct diagnosis and was put on my first inhaler. It is not an exaggeration to say that it changed my life.

I know it seems hard, but do be reassured that those inhalers may help you to lead a pretty normal life. Even more importantly, those inhalers may very well help you to stay alive. Asthma can kill. Every day, three people in the UK die of the condition. Having to take medication on a daily basis is not that bad. You might be surprised at the number of people who have to take daily medication for one medical condition or another. You probably pass one or two on the street every day.

Nor need asthma bar you from taking exercise. There are people on this forum who do running, others who do swimming; I do a weekly ballet class. You just have to get to know your condition. It will take a bit of time, but there are people who can help you. Asthma is quite a common condition and it is better understood than it used to be.

You say you were in hospital. Are you still under the care of a consultant in respiratory medicine or have you been discharged back to GP care?

I left torbay hospital back to GP care only to find there is a 4 month waiting list in rotherham to see a respirotory consultant so i am at the moment i am just continuing wiyh the drugs prescribed in torbay which are 200/6 fostaire.2 puffs twice daily.10mg montelukast. 10mg loratadine .2puffs once daily spiriva respimat.

Have you been given a peak flow metre? If not, it might be an idea to talk to your GP or Asthma nurse to ask if you can have one and make sure someone explains to you how to use it. A peak flow metre will help you to monitor your condition and, whilst you are getting to know your version of it, can help you to understand it.

I'm not on the medications you've been given, so I can't tell you much about them. There are quite a few different types of inhaler and different asthmatics respond well to different inhalers. However, there will be people on the forum who use (at least one of) those meds if you want to know more.

Then there is the AsthmaUK helpline. This is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and is manned by Asthma nurses. I've never had cause to use it, but plenty of people on the forum have and have spoken very highly of them.

Hope some of this helps.

pollybarb in reply to MaggieHP

I had no medication until I was 19 and in nurse training. I wheezed through my childhood and adolescent years armed only with a packet of MAC cough sweets to soothe my suffering! But I'm 60 now, I survived, but I am so grateful for the inhalers and montelukast which allow me to lead an active lifestyle today.

I agree with all the above! I have been on medication every day of my life since I was 3 (I'm 23 & 3 decades now). The medication will help you to feel well once you get the hang of managing it & although it can be a shock coming to terms with it, I'm sure you will continue to enjoy a fit & active life.

Hello there,

sorry to hear that you are struggling. I am much younger than you are, and for me my diagnosis was a relief, but I can imagine that it must be hard to suddenly be faced with having a chronic illness and to have to adapt to the changes this may force on you. I used to be very active as well before my asthma started to get bad and it can be very frustrating to feel like you are much older than you actually are due to restrictions in terms of fitness. Maybe you can find ways to work out differently? There are so many kinds of sports out there and as someone else already mentioned, there are athletes with asthma as well. I think you just need to spend some time experimenting with what feels right for you and what your lungs are able to tolerate, which may also depend on your general health and you will have good days and bad days. For example, I used to go hiking and running a lot before I was diagnosed with asthma, and I found it quite frustrating to not be able to do this anymore. But I found a new way: just going for slow walks in nature is also nice, and on some days I actually manage to walk for hours without being tired or out of breath, whilst on other days I am happy if I can walk to school and back without any problems.

Regarding the medication, yes it can be annoying to have to take all this stuff, but at the end it's supposed to be beneficial for you and it will help you to manage your asthma in a way that you will experience minimal symptoms and can live an active life. Having to wait for appointments and having to see multiple doctors before finding a treatment that works for you may be frustrating and annoying, but I can assure you that you are not alone and that there are many other people out there going through a similar experience.

I do hope that you will feel better soon and that you will eventually find a way to cope with your asthma and be as active as you wish to be!

Thankyou i will overcome this once everything is under control.

Welcome to the club!

Asthma can be scary but my advice is to accept and learn to live with it.

I was first diagnosed aged 5 following pneumonia and grew up without the support of any medication. Any physical activity caused me daily asthmatic attacks and I was grateful, age 19, to be given ventolin for the first time.

Now aged 60 I enjoy an active life thanks to medication; indeed keeping active is very important. Singing is also very beneficial to help master good breathing technique.

If you need to use inhalers make sure that you use them correctly and efficiently (a pharmacist taught me); rinse your mouth out after using those containing steroids to avoid fungal infections.

Yes, asthma is a pain in the chest, but how boring would life be without a new challenges to face?

The more controlled your asthma is the more fit you will be able to get. It is a bit of a vicious circle. On good days try some seated exercises. There are suggestions on nhs choices website.

I wonder when you were in hospital? It sounds quite recent. I had my first serious asthma encounter in 2016, and like you I ended up in hospital for 4 days in the end. I had already known I had asthma, a little bit, but not that I could get into that much trouble. That was new. I was first diagnosed in 2014, but looking back I think the signs have been there all my life. I am now 68.

When I came out of hospital, someone who this also had happened to some years earlier, told me it took her a year or so to come to terms with that hospital admission. At the time it seemed just such a long time to me, but now I can say it also took me a year. In that year I have needed to learn how I react to different things, things I hadn’t realised or noticed before (and that hadn’t really been a problem, either). I had really poor awareness of myself, or, when I did notice, I did not want to be a whimp.

Just the fact that we can react to different things in different seasons meant for me it had to take time. There had to be pollen for me to know if they were now a problem. And so on. But after one year it felt like an achievement. Sort of that I had reached a kind of goal.

For me there was also an emotional factor, a big one. My father did die from asthma, status asthmaticus. This was in 1950, so well before modern medicines. Needless to say it had a huge impact on my mother and me - we had to move country, for instance, because of it. So, ending up in hospital with this condition for myself was quite a hit! I was relieved my mother never had to know. It also means I don’t mess with my medications. I might misunderstand and get things wrong - it can be quite a jigsaw to know what works - but I take them religiously, and try to learn as much as I can about what they do and the effect on me, and how it effects me when I take them in different ways.

I still haven’t finished learning. I don’t think I ever will, as it all seems to change over time. It is hard, but once it had all settled down for me I had 15 month clear run, as it were. I learned about things that irritate, but I had no bad reactions, until this very last cold that I am now recovering from. And, in fact, I have been probably in better health than before the hospital admission, as I am getting more appropriate medication for me.

Best of luck. Come back to this site and talk. It has helped me.

Hello to you, PhilliFrance,

I can totally relate to you and your story is so familiarto so many if us.

The one thing that I will say is try to keep focused, remain positive and you will certainly be ok for the future.

I was diagnosed with Asthma about 17 years ago as a result of a particularly bad chest infection. To add insult to injury, I wasn't very fit and obese. I have lost quite a bit of weight on my quest to keep fit ( 4.5stone). I do a jazzercise class twice a week, ok I don't go over the top, I stop when it gets too much for me, but believe me you can get fit again. I hear you when describe your first admission to hospital, it is scary and very emotional. Please persevere with the new meds, they are invaluable. I hope that all of our replies and advice have helped and I wish you a speedy recovery and good health in the future.


If you haven't done so already (and aren't already eligible for free prescriptions) you might want to look at getting a pre-payment certificate. They can be purchased on-line on either a quarterly or annual basis. Once you have paid for one of these you get all prescriptions free for the period covered by the certificate you have bought.

Drugs will help your condition as will exercise, unfortunately for me I have to take the rough with the smooth re the exercise bit & they're still sorting out my drugs but try and keep positive it does help. Sending you lots of luck :)

Spiriva is tioptropium... I've just started it and love it

Fostair sadly stopped working for me a few weeks ago and I'm now on seretide 250

Loratadine 10mg wasn't strong enough and I kept giving myself allergic rhinitis or breathing troubles, breathing in dust or pollens.... my ige count is 3 times higher than it should be

As for being diagnosed I was diagnosed at 9 months old got away with ignoring asthma in my mid 20's and it bit me in the ass 18months - 2 years ago (I'm now 31)

And all the medication is a pain in the ass but it makes such a difference it's worth the slight inconvenience of remembering to take it... i still try and live an active lifestyle we go swimming and walking as a family (the three of us are asthmatics mum dad and 2 year old daughter) but we have to admit that we are pushing our luck sometimes and give somethings a miss (but not very often)


Your welcome, actually being as fit as you can be will help your condition as will being a good weight (not overweight and not underweight)... I'm working on loosing weight and trying to get more active, i used to do 10,000 steps a day as well as walking with the family and swimming but I got lazy

I wonder if you encountered an asthma trigger on holiday that you do not usually meet? Such as horses, animals having been in the accommodation in the past, gel air fresheners or some other allergen. If you have allergic asthma and can track down the allergen you can do what you can to avoid it in future - if so you will get on top of your asthma. Go well.

phillifrance-0 in reply to scw1

Thanks for that.recently had another bad atack whilst away in chester working through things with asthma nurse.

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