Asthma attack: At around 3pm our dog... - Asthma UK communi...

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Asthma attack

At around 3pm our dog chased a bird in the garden, and I jumped up quickly and ran to catch her. Within seconds, I started to get breathing problems, and got into the house as fast as I could - which only made it worse.

Went for my Ventolin and it was so bad that I couldn't manage to inhale any. I was gasping for air and it got worse. Husband was trying to puff it as I gasped, and went to call an ambulance when I nodded 'yes' for help. (I must have been desperate to agree to that!)

They said 5 minutes, but it was actually around 25 minutes. I gasped to breathe for over 10 minutes, my eyes started to bulge and my face prickled with pressure. I had sweat running down my face and my clothes stuck to me. It was cool in the house too. I felt that I was going to suffocate with not being able to breathe, and was clawing at the air in desperation. Each time I tried to move, it got worse.

He kept trying the Ventolin, and eventually some must have been inhaled, and after a few more minutes I started to get a small amount of air.

A few minutes later a doctor phoned to see how I was and said the ambulance was just down the road. She asked my husband how I was because my breathing was so bad. It was slowly getting easier to breathe a little, and left me really wheezy.

Ambulance crew were brilliant - ECG, BP, sats, listened to chest, asked if I wanted to go to the rapid assessment unit for blood test and x-ray, but that would have made me even more distressed. My tests were OK, and they stayed while they wrote their notes etc. to make sure I was OK.

My chest hurts, but that's muscles with the exertion of struggling so hard to breathe.

I'm one to make light of things, and can often ignore ailments if I can, but that was absolutely terrifying, and I felt sure that if the Ventolin hadn't finally worked, I wouldn't have lasted until the ambulance came.

I've made an appointment to speak to my asthma nurse on Wednesday (soonest appointment I can get) - obviously if I feel short of breath again before then, I'll get straight to the hospital, but I never want to experience that again. It was horrible.

I don't tolerate steroids well at all, and can only comfortably manage one puff of Seretide 50 each day, but I've used an extra one this afternoon to try and help. It's not perfect yet, but with care I'll feel even better by morning.

The asthma is usually irritant and exercise triggered, but I have noticed that if I react suddenly to something alarming like chasing after the dog, I get out of breath and need the Ventolin - I'll be more careful with things like that in future!

First time anything like that has happened, and I hope it's the last.

26 Replies

How scary for you. It is easy for others to say don’t panic and calm down but when fighting for every breath that is easier said that done!

Sounds like you did an amazing job at keeping level headed in an awful situation.

So pleased you came through the other end to tell the tale.

It is a stark warning to all of us how fragile life is and not to take our bodies for granted.

Thanks for the reality check, particularly important at this heat/high pollen time.

I hope you continue you recovery well. X

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Thank you for the kind words.

I didn't really keep my head though because I was absolutely terrified, and thought I wouldn't survive. I'm so glad I did, but wary in case it happens again.

I'll speak to the nurse next week, and hopefully get some reassurance ...I feel pretty fragile.

I don't think I have the energy to get a shower, so will have to just sit in the bath ...I feel quite in need after this afternoon, but just the thought of it makes me feel exhausted!

My hands and arms have bruises with my grasping at anything nearby.

I hadn't been particularly hot either because it was much cooler in the house, so yes, everyone take special care ...the pollen alone is high enough to cause problems, and like me today, you just don't see it coming. I'd been fairly OK this morning.

I didn't know it would get so bad.

My husband said he's afraid to go to sleep tonight in case something happens ...bless him, he'll soon know if that happens again.

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Do you have any Epsom salts? In a bath they can be fantastic - Magnesium sulphate can be a great muscle relaxant 👍🏻

I do hope you and your husband manage to get some sleep as sounds like you could both do with a decent night after such a shock x

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I don't have Epsom salts, but do have a Magnesium spray for when an asthma drug caused cramps (Braltus).

I had a careful bath, peeled the sticky patches off my legs and body, put on clean pyjamas, and laid on the sofa for an hour or so.

I'm about ready to go to bed and try to sleep ...I do still feel exhausted, and queasy, possibly shock, so hopefully I can sleep soundly.

Thanks for the good wishes X


My goodness, this sounds terrifying but it’s clear that you handled it in the best way possible!

Despite your experience sounding pretty horrific, I can’t help but thank you for sharing this with us.

I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery and please do take care 🙏🏽


It was terrifying, and seeing I'd felt fairly OK this morning, and stayed in for most of the day ...I'd only gone out to have my coffee, and the incident with the bird was just a minute later. It's alarming just how fast it can happen, and not really for the expected reasons.

Must have been my sudden movement and rush of adrenalin.

Truly horrible, and thankful that I was lucky enough to get at least one dose of Ventolin in the right place - my husband was trying to coordinate it with my gasps for air. Neither of us have dealt with this before, so I'm thankful that he was around today.

Going to take my aches to bed, and hope I feel better in the morning. To be honest, I'll just feel grateful to actually see the morning, it was that bad.

Take care all of you, go nowhere without your rescue inhaler, and take no risks in the heat or high pollen.

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Oh, goodness! How frightening for you and your husband! I am glad to hear you are better, even if not well yet.

Reading what happened to you immediately made me look up using a face mask with a spacer for ventolin and other inhalers. It is not something I have ever considered (I do use a spacer, as I realised some years back that the ventolin/salbutamol is more effective for me that way), but perhaps it is a good idea to have one for those times when it gets really bad.

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Thanks - because I can't take steroids, I try to get the most out of the Ventolin, so I do have a mask spacer. It means I don't have to try and get it all in one breath, and can breathe in and out a couple of times.

Better than holding my breath to count up to 8 or 10 as it makes my head swim.

My worst problem was that I was gasping for air yesterday with very little actually getting in ...I suppose the windpipe swells or something? Must have had perhaps nice pumps altogether before I felt it start to work - sounds dramatic, but that was when I realised that I was likely going to survive.


What a truly terrifying experience for you to take an attack after reacting to something which was purely instinctive. Situations such as this make taking care much more difficult as what you did was exactly that ...instinctive. The very word doesn’t conjure up thoughts of thinking whether you should, or should not, do something.

I hope the muscle pain soon lessens and the fear of the attack doesn’t stay with you unduly.

You don’t say whether or not you used a spacer, but as mentioned above in a previous post, one may help.

Best wishes to you for a speedy recovery.


Thank you for the kind wishes.

Lots of arm and chest muscle pain, not helped that I went up to go to bed and had to get right up again because I was nauseous. I'd only had a slice of cheese on toast at around 6pm, and a few cups of tea through the evening, but it seemed none of it had actually been digested (including my two night tablets of Uniphyllin, and Octasa for Colitis) explains why my upper abdomen was distended and made me feel queasy late last night. I wonder if a shock like that causes a lot of acid build up?

Woke up with back and muscle pain just before 6am, but husband got me some paracetamol and codeine tablets, and I eventually went back to sleep until just after 11am.

As you'll see, I do use a spacer with a mask on it to get the full dose properly.



Very scary - been there. How is your breathing now? I wish you all the best and a quick recovery.

Do you by any chance also have silent asthma? That is - no wheeze but tight chest, short of breath and easily gets worse. Forgive me for enquiring but I also have trouble with steroids like seretide. How does it affect you?

For me it's like my lungs dry out and it gets harder and harder to cough up the phlegm in my chest. It starts getting caught in my voicebox and I feel like I can't breathe in or out.


I'd thought that an asthma attack was similar to the fairly sudden onset spells of needing to sit down until breathing comes back to normal attack being when it doesn't settle back down, but yesterday was awful. True I had to try and run back into and through the house for the Ventolin, and it was getting worse all the way, but it felt as though my windpipe had been plugged up and my lungs like concrete.

I'm breathing OK this morning ...bit rough through the night, but I'm not pushing any boundaries, and will just try to relax today. It cooler thank goodness.

I get a wheeze sometimes, often in the evening, but yes, tight chest and short of breath, easily getting worse if I try to walk too much or up and down stairs etc.

Steroids give me terrible back, abdomen, hip and leg pain, and distension, which in turn seems to push my lungs up, and make breathing even harder. First had them during U colitis/sepsis and large IV doses, with 9 weeks tailing off on tablets after. It took months for those side effects to go - that was 2015/16.

As soon as I got asthma last year, I was given Clenil, then Flixotide, and a couple of others to try and find one that didn't have bad effects, but they all do. Nurse settled on 1 dose of Seretide 50 children's dose, but only one dose instead of two daily. (I do get a cough sometimes that is hard to clear - I use Robitussin.) Without steroids at a full dose, it does mean using more Ventolin, and she's recently given me Uniphyllin with the dose very slowly increased up to 400 mg twice each day. Some other drugs had unpleasant side effects, and the Braltus even caused that back and abdomen pain again, as is (I suspect) the Uniphyllin going on the pains this past few nights. Seems I can't win!

I'll speak to the nurse on Wednesday - first appointment available with my nurse - see if she has any helpful advice if it happens again, and ask for some Intal to try.


Be careful right now .... take regular ventolin 2 puffs every 4 boys until you see your asthma nurse .... as your lungs will be sensitive. I forget the dosage but ask your doc ... what can you do to avoid steroids. I got neubiliser for two days in gp on the condition I did what he told me to do with ventolin. He gave me a schedule for ventolin and id was a lot ... I did what he told me and I did about the steroids which I hate.


Typo boys = hours


Thanks. I was almost afraid to use anything when I got up today! I've had some Ventolin though, and I'm feeling rather weary, so won't be doing much of anything.

You had a nebulizer used at the GP's? Does it have any drugs in it?'s all new to me.

My lungs do feel sensitive today, and I think I've strained every muscle from neck to hips in my effort to breathe yesterday ...must have been 10-15 minutes that I struggled and then the Ventolin started to work.

Being sick late last night didn't help either, as that's strained some abdominal muscles too.

I'll try anything they offer as long as it isn't steroids.


If you will try anything what about "nutritional" treatment. I have been taking high strength " Probiotic Capsules" for 4+ years -no chest infections no asthma attacks off meds which I took for nearly 50 years. 75 next month. Working with the gut micro-biome.


Thankyou - I do have probiotics, and used to always take supplements to suit my needs & lifestyle, but since having U. Colitis late 2015, find most of them just cause upsets and irritation.

I'll try taking them again - been a year since I last tried.


Cold air opens up lungs ... this happened out daughter when she was 5 .... it was night time and on call doc told us get her outside in the cold. It's always made me wonder if I should stick my head in the fridge if I get an attack .... as it immediately opened up her lungs when ventolin dixnt


I'll remember that - always worth trying.

All of this being ill is new to us - I've tried hard to stay fit and well for over 45 years since a bad experience in a hospital - and it served me well. Came as a shock to get Colitis and all the other autoimmune rubbish that comes alongside!

I'm still very weary, but did get 4.5 hours sound sleep once painkillers worked.

A careful and quiet day I think!


Be careful with the cold air thing as for some people it can be a trigger. For example for me large temperature changes (particularly going from warm to cold) is a major trigger and can set off some pretty nasty bronchospasm.

If you want to test it it’s probably worth waiting until everything is settled again and then seeing if you cope ok with gentle exposure to cold air in a controlled way, rather than trying in an attack and finding it doesn’t help or makes things worse.

But glad you’re feeling better today! Make sure to take it easy 😊

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I will be careful - I do know that cold air does make my breathing worse if out for a walk after finding that last winter, so perhaps not a fix for me.


To anyone else reading: I'd be *very* careful with trying that - as with many things in asthma, what helps one person can trigger another. I'm glad it worked for your daughter Emer1000, but it could have made someone else much worse - I feel it was tricky advice for the dr to give without knowing the asthmatic and their triggers, though good that it worked out. I often find significant temperature changes can set me off and also just cold air by itself. Likewise others find steam helps them and it sets me off, and I can't go near many essential oils as they are a major trigger - but often not the same ones that other asthmatics have as triggers!



Cold air also brings on my asthma. I didn't admit myself to hospital one time because I was scared that the cold air would make me worse. For me it's warm air all the way. I have had trouble with steam but not all the time. I also find essential oils a trigger. You are right - we are all different. It must be very hard for parents to try and work out their children's triggers.



Just realized I wasn't clear in the above - I was scared that the cold air-conditioning in the hospital would exacerbate both my asthma and lower my body temperature when I was also fighting a chest infection. If I'm in a cold environment and breathing in cold air, my body temperature also drops. It doesn't matter what clothes I am wearing, if there is any part of my body open -such as my hands or face - I get cold. Cold air also immediately brings on a tight chest and asthma.


I'm still finding breathing a bit difficult at times if I try to do anything, and at 5am I got woken up with a sharp pain under the sternum which went around my back. Short of breath too.

Took Ventolin & two painkillers and got propped upright on pillows. Had the urge to burp, and had some stomach noises.

Fell asleep around 7am until 11. Still tired and easy get out of breath, so just sitting quietly. Only had porridge for lunch.

Got some Gaviscon in the hope that it'll help - never had anything like that before, so hope it works.


Today, I'm still weak, wobbly, and very tired, light headed and not much appetite, and still have pains in chest and arms from the straining to breathe on Saturday.

Not able to move around a lot either.

Spoke to the asthma nurse today, and she wanted me to see the doctor just to be safe. Saw the doctor this afternoon, and she didn't seem at all surprised at how I feel. Gave me a thorough check, prescribed another inhaler, some tablets for the reflux, and asked me to double my steroid inhaler for a week (I'm not tolerant with steroids, so no tablets).

As long as everything is OK, I see the asthma nurse next week, as my chest sounds are fairly good today.

She wants me to take the reflux tablets to see how I respond to it, and if I do may need some other treatment in case it's the hiatus hernia causing the reflux and bloating that could be making asthma worse.

I remembered laid in bed yesterday, that a few months after being in hospital with U. Colitis, our wonderful dog was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, and we chose to manage it with pain relief and careful observation. Took her to the beach as much as possible (coffee and chips days we called them) I did recall that when walking back over the soft sand to the steps, I'd get short of breath and tight chested. We had to say goodbye to her on July 5th that year (2016), and I had a setback in recovery from colitis, but she was the most important thing then.

My breathing didn't give me much trouble again, and I thought little of it. Last summer though, asthma 'arrived' and has been a nuisance to deal with ever since.

I'm thinking that the hernia and U. colitis have mostly caused the asthma/breathing issues because when taking steroids for colitis, they caused distention that pushed my lungs up and made breathing difficult.

Still a bit afraid to fall asleep at night, but hoping the weariness and breathing issues improve in the coming week.


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