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How do you find out what type of asthma you have?

Hi I was diagnosed in 1990 with asthma and probably have had from 1986 (age 15). Looking at the forum I have seen people say they have : Brittle asthma or Eosinophilic Asthma or Cough Variant Asthma. How did you find out the type of asthma you have.

Asthma, hayfever, eczema are linked I am aware of this and my family has a genetic predisposition to asthma.

I know my clear triggers - dust, smoke, cold weather, infections, grass pollen

Occasional triggers - stress, exercise

Rare triggers - cats if have too much close contact i.e. cat sit on chest and stroke for a long time.

Generally my asthma is horrendous when I have an respiratory/chest infection.

What type of asthma does this sound like?

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Sounds like "Atopic Asthma" as it is linked with other allergies etc.

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I should also add that also have OSA and Hypoventilation Syndrome (also genetic).

Infections are worst trigger

Atopic would make sense. This last bacterial infection (moraxella catarrhalis) I started getting hives and itchy eyes.

Might be a daft question but can you be allergic to an infection?

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Brittle asthma is just a description of severity, and is also being phased out for the term severe asthma. Eosinophilic Asthma I got diagnosed through a blood test (FBC/CBC) which showed high levels of eosinophils. I also had atopic asthma diagnosed through bloods and a skin prick test and I have the allergic triad as well. Cough variant asthma mainky describes that you’re a ‘cougher’ not a ‘wheezer’.

Generally they suggest that atopics are triggered by allergies and non-atopics (eosinophilic and non-eosinophilic) are triggered by non-allergies. It me it sounds like you may have a touch of both (whichisI quite common apparently).

I think 99% of asthmatics are triggered by resp infections (not fun as we’re also more prone to them), as our lungs don’t respond ‘normally’ to it.

Hope that helps explain things a bit

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Respiratory infections are horrible especially when have to use a CPAP machine as well.

Thanks for that EmmaF91

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I find your comments really interesting as I’m only just learning about asthma, following my son having a ‘severe life threatening’ attack 14 weeks ago. Since it happened the Consultant he was referred to has done nothing during the appts we’ve had, as far as looking at why it happened, or doing any tests. She also has given us no real guidance on care or prevention going forward and just said ‘yes it may happen again’. My GP has been more helpful. Due to this, I’ve just requested a referral for a second opinion and, after reading your experience and the tests you’ve had - I’m pleased I have now! Thank you.

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....oh and he is a cougher not a wheezer. Wondered why he’s never been short of breath or had difficulty walking yet he ended up not breathing with 2 collapsed lungs in the space of 6 minutes. Coughs a lot in the shower in fact.

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Sorry to hear what he (and you) have gone through 😣! Hopefully he’s starting to feel a bit better even if his cons hasn’t been that helpful.

Asthmatics in general seems to get difficulty with consultants at local hospitals, possibly because most cons seem to specialise in COPD not asthma. Luckily my new local cons is excellent but I have had some terrible ones - it was only at the specialist hosp that I managed to get more information (like I didn’t know I was eosinophilic until referral). It’s definitely worth asking to be referred elsewhere if you feel like you’ve had limited guidance on prevention!

Good luck and feel free to post any questions on the site - someone somewhere will have an answer or similar experience. It may also be worth giving AUK a call to answer any questions specific to your son!

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I was diagnosed with late onset Asthma in my 50s. Further tests revealed Bronchiectasis but Asthma wasn't ruled out as well, nor was it comfirmed. It's very confusing. I hope you get the answer soon.

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I attend a specialist clinic which is the kind of place where they put effort into these things and do a lot of testing, and so far the conclusion for me seems to be 'weird...and probably not allergic or eosinophilic'. Which is not so useful when it's not well controlled and all the new drugs are for those types of asthma!

I think they need to narrow it down a bit more personally as they mainly use blood and exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) which for me is low to middling as it usually indicates a more allergic or eosinophilic type. However they have not tested my sputum which after doing a bit of reading appears to be a better test of what's going on in there, though blood seems to be ok for eosinophils.

Infections do seem to be a trigger for most asthmatics as Emma says. From what I have read the airways can overreact to infections, even when they are not serious in themselves eg colds drive my asthma nuts. Not heard of allergic reactions to an infection but I'm prepared to believe it can happen with all the variety in asthma!

I was speaking to an AUK nurse today and she confirmed what I had gathered from reading around, which is that asthma is an umbrella term for a lot of different disorders really, which have different drivers and may or may not present the same way - made more confusing because two people can present similarly with an attack but it can be different things which ultimately led them to have that response to a trigger.

I get the impression some drs haven't yet caught up with its complexities though as it often seems to be reduced to one simple thing.

Sorry for the ramble there, hope some of this was useful.

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Where is the clinic? Is it in the UK? Thanks

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Yes - there are various clinics like this across the UK. Several in London but also in the rest of the country. You need to be referred there though for NHS either by GP or hospital.

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Thank you I will look into it.

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Just to add as I have seen above this is for your son: I don't know how old he is but it's probably worth asking the AUK nurses where the paediatric/adolescent clinics are and how to sort the referral as GPs may not know - again I know there are some in London but less sure about elsewhere. My consultant is for adults officially but also runs a clinic for adolescents (I can PM you about that if useful).

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Similarly here. I know there’s a paeds unit at my specialist in London and there’s one at my soon to be new specialist in Cambridge.

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He’s just turned 18. He was 17 when it happened. I’m looking at the North West Lung Centre at Wythenshaw Manchester. My GP referred him yesterday. So fingers crossed

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I found your post most interesting. I've had asthma for 50 years but was equally confused about some of the jargon.

I have asthma, hay fever, and eczema. My family has a genetic predisposition to asthma. We are atopic. I share some of your triggers - dust, smoke, grass. I would add tree pollen, and going into cold water.

For me too, exercise is an occasional trigger. With regards to stress, I wonder this might be an underlying factor that is not obvious but which is shared with other asthmatics. For example I have had attacks after periods of stress, i.e. when you get a chance to relax after a period of stress.

It is often said that eczema is effected by stress, or shall we say emotional factors. So I have long, long been trying to look into whether emotional factors are also a contributing factor with asthma. This is based on the slightly mad assumption that emotional factors might be something that could be controlled.

For me another massive trigger is animals - dogs, cats, horses etc. In my case if I spend too long in a house with a dog or cat, or go anywhere near a stable.

Generally my chest is bad with a chest infection. I feel the asthma and chest infection feed off each other. Sometimes pred is useless. Sometimes anti-bios are useless. Sometimes both are needed.

Apologies for the ramble.

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I’ve had my asthma since childhood but was only diagnosed properly a few years ago. They always referred to it as a wheeze when I was a child despite the fact I’ve been on medication and been having attacks since I was two. They told me I have ‘Difficult allergic asthma’ the allergic part because most of my triggers are allergy based and the difficult part as it’s hard to control (or just because it’s mine and I’m generally difficult according to my parents 😂)

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