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Sudden change in asthma

gemssea
gemssea
33 Replies

Helloall,

I have had asthma my whole life. I stupidly used to smoke but gave up 5 years ago this April. I have been generally fit and well since then and taken a keen interest in exercise, cycling 20 miles most days to and from work for the past 18 months. Prior to that I was exec ricing 6 days a week (Insanity work outs) and have completed various challenges like Tough Mudder/Nuclear races etc.

In the summer of 2018 my doctor changed my preventer inhaler to Sirdupla as I was getting out of breath when exercising and it was a massive game changer for me! I barely used my reliever and was confidently able to cycle, at a good pace, without worrying about getting out of breath. It was great.

In April last year this suddenly all changed. I have been constantly out of breath, today I have used my blue inhaler 4 times just sitting at my desk!! I have been going back and forth to the doctors about why this could be. She did an allergy test and found I have high tree pollen, which would account for some of the issues of last year, but does not account for recent breathlessness.

She changed my preventer inhaler (cant remember the name) again just before Christmas and said if it does not work, which is has not, then she will refer me to a specialist (appt with doc 21/01).

I am constantly tired and probably subconsciously suffering with anxiety due to feeling short of breath all the time, plus the stress of when I am cycling and needing my blue inhaler constantly. I cant even walk up a flight of stairs without getting short of breath - I am only 36! :(

Has anyone else suffered a sudden change in their asthma? If so, I would appreciate any recommendations etc.

Thanks

Gemma

33 Replies
oldestnewest
elanaoali

Hi Gemssa

I think the best advice that I can give you is this link to the asthma uk helpline . They will be able to answer your many questions and help you get what you need e.g. talk through your treatment and what to say at your consultant appointment.

asthma.org.uk/advice/resour...

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EmmaF91

My asthma had a relatively sudden change a few years ago so it’s not just you it happened too 😅

Are you on any tablets for your asthma? Montelukast or a antihistamine (fexofenadine etc) or any nasal sprays etc? And have you had a course of pred to see if that helps calm things at all? Otherwise the best thing is referral to a consultant cause they have more drugs available. They can offer things like theophylline/aminophylline/spiriva etc etc

If you’re finding you can’t do stuff and you vent isn’t working/lasting 4hrs then you need to seek help (according to you asthma plan assuming you have one. If not that’s something else to get organised). The fatigue is a common side effects of poorly controlled asthma

I hope they get you sorted soon

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to EmmaF91

Hi Emma,

Thanks for the reply.

I tried Montelukast but didn't get on very well with it. I take fexofenadine but only really during allergy season. Have just read elsewhere about people taking it daily so started back on them tonight. Not sure what you mean by "a course of pred"?

Blue definitely not lasting 4 hours so will see what gp says when I see her on 21st but expecting it will be a referral. Its been going on for too long now.

Did you get yours back under control?

G

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EmmaF91
EmmaF91
in reply to gemssea

A course of prednisolone (ie 40mg of steroid tablets usually 8 pills, taken for 5-7 days to calm the flare)

If the blue isn’t lasting 4hrs you need to see your GP tomorrow. Breathing is not something you mess about with and ventolin should last that long which suggests you are defo having a flare and possibly an attack. You can take up to 10 puffs at once but this also means a GP check up and if 10 doesn’t work or last 4hrs you need hospital.

I’m now a severe/brittle asthmatic. Since starting Benralizumab injections I have a lot more control! At my worst I was in hosp every week or 2. Started benra in May last year and have had 3 trips (1 cause by infection, 1 by running for train in cold whilst recovering from infection and the last most likely due to pet dander... it was Christmas 🤫😅)

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to EmmaF91

You're right, breathing is not something to mess with, just think it has been going on for so long I have gotten used to it 😕

Some helpful info, thanks. Glad your asthma is better than it used to be. Will post an update once I see the doctor.

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robert1957

Please look at true causes of asthma medical medium

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Gerrymoise

Don’t know if it’s the same or helps but sounds similar to me and I was diagnosed with chronic breathing syndrome. It’s basically where (often through stress) you subconsciously start to shallow breathe and/or hold your breathe for short periods. Sounds mad I know but over time it becomes the norm so your body can’t then cope with exercise when you need deep breathing. physios can help with retraining you to breathe and exercises to do at home.

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Gerrymoise

Interesting. I know I have had a habit of doing that when I did certain exercises. It definitely feels like my throat as opposed to have an issue in my lungs. Will chat to the doctor about this. Thank you.

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Gerrymoise
Gerrymoise
in reply to gemssea

A way to check if asthma or breathing /panic attack is monitoring your peak flow. If asthma your peak flow will drop

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Gerrymoise

That's the thing, my peak flow (since I stopped smoking) is usually around the 550 mark! But my throat constantly feels tight. I am certainly going to speak to my doctor about this possibility.

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EmmaF91
EmmaF91
in reply to gemssea

If you’re feeling the issue more in your throat than your chest in may be worth looking up things like VCD/ILO (vocal cord dysfunction/Inducible Laryngeal Obstruction) or as Gerrymoise said a breathing pattern disorder/dysfunctional breathing. These can be common asthma mimicers and can be treated with exercises

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to EmmaF91

Yep, definitely going to speak to my doctor about this. I have constant breathlessness/tightness in my throat and what feels like a a layer of clingfilm at the back of my throat I have to clear regularly.

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EmmaF91
EmmaF91
in reply to gemssea

The throat clearing may also be caused by PND (post nasal drip)... another thing to look and and see if it possibly applies to you or not (it’s a common comorbidity of asthma, especially of it’s allergy drive I think)

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to EmmaF91

Thanks! Lots of research before my appt on 21st 🙂

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Gerrymoise
Gerrymoise
in reply to gemssea

Be warned , whilst I was diagnosed by a specialist private consultant, a lot of medical staff since snigger and say “how can you forget how to breathe “ 🙄

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Jjude1003
Jjude1003
in reply to gemssea

You sound similar to me and I have had great success with the Buteyko method.

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Yellow75

Asthma is variable in my experience. You seem to have a good doctor who is doing tests and suggesting seeing a consultants. Smoking wouldn't have helped lungs in past as you probably know. Between 36 and 44 had really bad prolonged episodes of asthma, where I felt tired exhausted, walking at the pace of 100 year old. Last year though put onto montelukast and fexofenadine, and asthma improved immensely. More or less asthma free now, just occasional tight chest from dust and smoking fumes I walk past, or if come into contact with someone who is heavy smoker. Past 8 have been nightmare at times particularly when you are a mum and working full-time too. Hope you do come through.

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Yellow75

I have a great Doctor, very lucky! I spoke about the smoking with my doc and she didn't seem too concerned as I stopped just after my 30th but obviously it could have done damage, which I guess the specialist will help me figure out.

Have started on my fexofenadine as of last night so got a week or so before my appointment with doc to see if that eases symptoms. Really glad to hear you had similar and it's more controlled now.

Thank you for replying with your story.

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Yellow75
Yellow75
in reply to gemssea

Let us all know how you get on. Sometimes it is a bit of trial and error getting medication right for you, and can take awhile which isn't great. However because of issues had over last 8 years I do understand my symptoms and early indicators that there is a problem. Although still not precisely clear on my triggers. I know a couple, other peoples smoking is one. I'm afraid I'm very anti smoking and think in it should be banned in public spaces, but that's for another forum. Hope things get back on track for you though.

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Yellow75

Will definitely keep you all posted.

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Maxza

This happened to me a couple of years ago. I suddenly had a flare up, having been very well controlled for over 30 years! I would have been about 44/45 at the time and it was a game changer. Although much better I unfortunately don’t feel as good as I did before it occurred. I just feel like my asthma is worse now, or I’m more symptomatic. So I am keen to hear how you get on. My asthma nurse has threatened to send me to a specialist but then never bothered and I am now on my 4th change of preventer. Good luck

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Maxza

Sorry to hear, it really does suck when it suddenly changes like this!! Will certainly keep you updated with anything that might be useful.

Our of curiosity, are you on fexofenadine? I just started mine last night after reading other people's suggestions.

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Maxza
Maxza
in reply to gemssea

No, are they tablets? I tried montelukast and that did nothing but I would try anything because you are right it sucks!

Thanks for the reply x

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Maxza

Yes tablets, they are strong antihistamines. I only used to take mine during allergy season but have been reading asthmatics take daily alongside Montelukast (which I didn't get on with either) as it helps to ease symptoms. I was taking fexofenadine all last allergy season when my symptoms were bad, but perhaps I should have increased the dose. Will speak to doc when I see her on 21st.

Will def keep you posted x

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Maxza
Maxza
in reply to gemssea

Thank you so much. I know a lot of my asthma is allergy related so this could be very helpful

M

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Gerrymoise
Gerrymoise
in reply to Maxza

montelukast did nothing for me but my life is miserable without my fexofenadine as I have nasal polops

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hilary39

Hi gemssea, I have had very similar ups and downs--know you are not alone! The key things are to continue to be aggressive about (1) identifying potential new allergens in your environment at home, work, or during your commute (2) trying new asthma meds (3) seeing your doctors frequently and getting as many different tests as possible (spirometry, nitrous oxide, blood work, a chest xray if necessary etc.--if everything comes back normal that's a great sign as it just means you're having a flare up [they can last months]; and if anything comes back abnormal then you can work on treating it]).

Asthma is a fickle, mercurial disease and it can roar back into our lives when we are least expecting it. From ages 8-29 my asthma was pretty under control and then a confluence of things set it off--moving into an apartment building next to someone with a dog (I'm terribly allergic to pets); traveling to Delhi in the middle of a particularly bad pollution spell (I wound up in the hospital there and then it took about 5 months for my lungs to calm down); then I moved to a new city with a new slew of pollens and that set off my asthma for a few years.

Then it calmed down again at around age 32 and I was like you described--running half marathons, a ragnar race, working out all the time. Then I got moved to a new floor at work that turned out to have mold in the walls and I was super sick and asthmatic, struggling to walk up stairs like you described, for nearly a year. Then I moved to a new floor and slowly recovered.

Then I moved to France at 37 and all the new allergens + the fact that animals and horses are everywere where we live has me miserable all over again.

All that is to say--allergens and triggers are ubiquitous and invisible and can have a profound impact on us asthmatics. Also, in general, asthma often starts to worsen as we age (but this isn't true for everyeone).

My new medicine regime is working pretty well (finally)--symbicort 2x a day, spiriva zyrtec and nasacort 1x a day and Xolair monthly. I'm going to the gym 4+ days a week (though still not back to running).

Just wanted to share my experience in case any of it is helpful to you. Let me know if you have questions about anything above and take care!!

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gemssea

This is really helpful, thank you so much! It has given me hope that I can get this back under control again. As you said, I need to have all the relevant tests done to rule out anything else and then get my meds sorted.

Horses are the absolute worst for me too so I feel for you!

But I am happy you can exercise again, that it was has been stressing me out the most - the fear of not being able to - as, like most, I need to be able to for my mental health.

Luckily my doctor is great and really working with me to get me sorted so hopefully I will be back to "normal" soon.

Will post and update.

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Michalbaner

Hi,

Have you tried tweaking your diet in any way? An antiinflammatory protocol might be helpful for the condition.

There is also some evidence that asthma is triggered by immune dysregulation where there is an imbalance of something called T-Helper Cells. This was my case and once addressed both my asthma and allergies have gone.

Also, frequent antibiotics in childhood that would have devasted the gut microbiota have been linked to life-long asthma. Have you been put on many AB cycles when you were younger? People born through C-Section often suffer from asthma and allergies exactly for this reason.

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gemssea
gemssea
in reply to Michalbaner

I haven't tweaked my diet but equally it hasn't changed since the prior year when my asthma was good. However I have been looking into the link with my gut/GERD/asthma, only thing is I haven't been getting any reflux so not sure it's that.

I was very ill at the end of my teens and had multiple courses of AB's. I am going to mention about it potentially being a gut issue.

Thanks for the tip, much appreciated.

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Michalbaner
Michalbaner
in reply to gemssea

If the doc agrees, a round of high potency probiotics perhaps.

Also there is something called "silent reflux". This is asymptomatic and usually undiagnosed as it causes no pain. Symptoms are similar to nocturnal asthma.

Good luck on your next visit!

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Yellow75

Just one other thing to think about, as well as montelukast is what your Vitamin D levels are at. I have found when low asthma symptoms have been worst. I was found to have low levels just before start of December and taking supplements do feel more energised. Maybe something to look into if not already done.

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gemssea

Thanks for all your really helpful responses. Lots for me to look into prior to my appointment. Poor doctor won't have enough time to go through my list 😂

Will keep you all posted.

Gemma x

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