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Asthma UK community forum
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When to go to hospital

Hi all,

I'm new here and I am really glad to have found a community of people who understand what dealing with asthma is like (even if most of you are in another country 😁 I'm Canadian) I'm an 18yr old girl and I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 12 so almost 7yrs ago. Anyway I hope everyone is feeling better than me right now. I've been feeling pretty ill all day today, I had a minor asthma attack last night and I was able to control it with my rescue inhalor. But today I have been struggling with terrible chest pain/tightness, coughing and shortness of breath when I talk. I've taken my rescue inhaler about 20times but it hasn't gotten any better. I'm nervous about going to the hospital because every other time I've gone my oxygen levels were perfect (98-100) and the nurses looked at me like I was faking. I really don't want to go unless I have to but at this point I'm just not sure how I am supposed to decide if I need to or not.

If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it.

7 Replies

Hi sorry to hear that you’re not doing well at the moment!

The general rule with asthma is if it feels uncontrolled get help.

If your reliever helps and lasts more than 4 hours but you keep needing it book an urgent appt to see your GP as you probably need prednisolone.

If you’re reliever doesn’t help, doesn’t last 4 hours or you are struggling to eat, sleep, talk or do basic activities go to hospital for further treatment. If you’re not sure go to hospital - in the UK docs would rather see us early and not bad then really bad when we put it off - it’s cheaper and less stressful for them! (I should imaging this will be the same in Canada!)

O2 sats is not a good indication of how bad your asthma is! It should be measured on peak flow and symptoms! I’ve had bad attacks where my PF was below 50% but sats at 98%, and conversely PF of 70% but sats of 94%! In Britain the only time they really look at sats is if the drop to 92% or below as an indication of a very severe attack, or just as a measure of improvement (like heart rate and blood pressure too!). I think people ‘confuse’ asthma with COPD which is a lot more focused on sats as they can drop very quickly in flare ups.

From the sounds of it you’re reliever isn’t working so I’d ‘pop’ to your local hospital and get help.

Hope you start to feel better soon x

1 like

Hello. I’m in a similar situation here. I tend to just use my reliever/my preventer whenever I’m struggling as quite often I can be very tight chested but cope by breathing shallowly and not over exerting myself until it passes. I usually find it does pass eventually. However, because my reliever isn’t helping should I be attending hospital? (If it’s evening or weekend) because I usually feel like I’m just wasting peoples time as I can still eat fine and usually my speaking is ok although sometimes I sound like I’ve just ran a mile. I’m not sure if there’s much my GP can do to help me as I’m already on quite a collection of medication. Does this post make sense? I’m afraid I’m rambling :)


I completely understand what you're saying and normally I just let the feeling pass by itself too but yesterday it just wouldn't go. I just felt like I couldn't catch my breath, my chest was really tight and I couldn't stop coughing. My mom took me to a different hospital than we normally go to and the staff were amazing! Everyone was super nice and helpful and they took care of me right away. My O2 levels had actually dropped down to 94 which is the first time that's happened for me. I was given 4 breathing treatments and iv steroids and I got to go home later that evening.

My advice for you is: you know your body better than anyone else and if you feel like your symptoms aren't improving then go to the hospital.

It took me a while to understand this but you are NOT wasting anyone's time and it is always better safe than sorry.

1 like

I had a really bad chest infection in February that came on suddenly. I had a barking, chesty cough for a fortnight then within an hour I felt like death. Took a taxi to hospital as I felt unfit to drive and got into trouble as the doctor said I should’ve called an ambulance 🌚 I definitely don’t like feeling like I’m wasting time. I always worry I’d call an ambulance and feel better by the time it got to me and I’d get into trouble for time wasting


Trust me I get it, I hate feeling like I'm wasting their time too. But I'd rather "waste" the doctors time than wait too long at home and not make it to the hospital in time 😐


That’s a good way of thinking. I suppose I’ve been ‘ok’ so long and I just presume I always will be. One day I won’t be so lucky

1 like

Hi littlemonster

Welcome to the forum. There's some information here (UK based) that might be helpful about when to go to hospital: bit.ly/2Eo9P84

Take care,



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