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How to see a specialist?


Hi, My name is Angela. I'm from Peru, basically I've moved to UK a year and a half ago. I was diagnosing with asthma when I was 2 years old. After my teens my asthma seemed to have disappeared I don't remember having a problem for many years, how ever I'm 26 and last December I've started again with the shortness of breath and my GP gave Ventolin and a brown Preventer inhaler. It didn't work very well and my GP gave me a Fostair 100 and then change it for a Fostair 200. Two weeks ago I went to the hospital and they treatment for chest infection, gave me antibiotics and nebulized me however i wasn't feeling much better after that and when back 3 days after with fever and shortness of breath the doctor nebulized me again and gave Prednisone for 3 days(8 pills of 5mg per day). Because I'm still not well some days I feel much better but then again I start coughing so my GP gave 2 more days of Prednisone. Can I ask to see a Pneumology?, in Peru each disease is treated with the respective specialist. I'm very happy with my GP he has been very helpful but I don't feel I'm getting better.

14 Replies

I can’t say if you need a specialist or not, but what you are having from your gp sounds pretty normal. Generally asthma is treated by a gp, supported by asthma nurses, and referred on only when it gets a bit worse overall, and often then only until it settles down, unless you have severe or complicated asthma.

Thank you for your answer I feel much better to know a little be more about :)

Hi Ange,

As you have noticed we do have a different system here in the UK. Most health conditions here are treated by your GP. I can only think of three reasons why a GP would refer you to see a consultant.

1. Your GP suspects you need surgery.

2. You need some diagnostic test that he is unable to do at the surgery.

3. You need some kind of specialist treatment that your GP is unable to provide.

You can ask to be seen by a consultant, though people rarely do and I believe certain criteria have to be met before a GP can refer you.

You also need to be aware that wait times for a consultant can be quite lengthy depending on your condition.

I am sorry you are unwell and it does seem to have been going on a long time. Your best course of action is to go back to your GP. More than likely he will give you some other course of medication. If that does not improve things for you, you just keep on going back.

A GP doesn’t tend to contact you to see if the medication he gave has worked. If you don’t go back he just assumes you have got better. Keep going back until you find something that works. There are other treatments, add ons, that your GP can give you if your asthma is not controlled.

AngeMcTorres in reply to Troilus

Thank you, now my GP is giving me Prednisone , with the coronavirus out there I won't be able to see my GP until everything go back to normal. But thank you for the answer.

Or right now, in these circumstances, ring them. At least here, just for now, you can’t go to the surgery unless invited after they have spoken to you.

Same here, I think my GP don't want to go out for now until everything is safe he even gave me a sick note for 12 weeks

Hello AngeMcTorres. Definitely go back to your GP as your symptoms are persistent. You don't mention any tests carried out by the GP, just treatment which hasn't worked. That's the discussion you need with the GP.

Adult asthma can sometimes be different to childhood asthma. In your case you're also living in a different country, exposed to different irritants.

It will take time to get over the chest infection and if you've had it some time you may need a different antibiotic. The fact that the symptoms just keep returning after short treatment is justification to go back to your GP for longer term treatment.

I would definitely explain your distress at having not found the right treatment and happy to try longer term treatment but if it doesn't work you would like to be referred to a respiratory specialist. I think that's reasonable in order to establish what type of asthma you have and to provide the appropriate treatment.

I hope you find a resolution.

AngeMcTorres in reply to Poobah

Thank you for the answer. Yes I definitely feel my asthma is a lot different now as adult I will have a chat with my GP to see what other treatment are available for me, Thank you for the advice.

Have you been tested for corona virus during your travels ? Fever and shortness of breath are signs of the virus, but they can also be signs of other things.

You have been treated with pred and with anti-biotics. Did either of these help with the cough ?

I am an asthmatic and possibly recovering from the corona virus. I have taken pred for a week, but it has not helped my cough. I will ask my GP for further advice next week What do I need next antibiotics or pred ?

Good luck.

Thank you for the answer. No I haven't been tested, they thought it was Coronavirus because after the antibiotic I was with fever and coughing, but didn't tested me just send me home with Coronavirus guideline, but after the Prednisone I was feeling much better no 100% though. I have been in the UK for 1 year and 6 months. My doctor from Peru also think it might be the change of environment, food anything that made my asthma uncontrollable. Hopefully my GP will find the right treatment soon, I haven't used much staff for my asthma for about 10 years just Ventolin if I need it but no more than that. I think it will take a few goes before find the right medicine again hopefully ones everything goes back to normal my GP will be able to see me again and I will definitely have a conversation with him about any kind of long treatment as other people advised in the comments.

Hello Angela. Unless your asthma is severe, you’re unlikely to get an appointment with a specialist at the moment. I was referred before Christmas, sent for lung function tests in February, and given the next available clinic appointment (in August) - and that has now been cancelled. I’m not expecting anything until the Coronavirus crisis is over - I think all the respiratory consultants are overwhelmed at the moment...

Hope you find something that helps. Is your asthma allergy-related? The tree pollen is very high this year, and probably very different from Peru. That might explain why it’s suddenly got worse, and would also open up some more treatment options. Good luck, anyway.

Hi, I didn't have a problem with the pollen last year but I do use Avamys from years ago. I haven't been out much since the Coronavirus crisis started, I'm scared :( Thank you for your answer. Stay safe :)

I felt that my GP had reached a dead end in ideas for my asthma flare up. He told me that he could refer me to a consultant but that this meant a likely six month wait as I was not an urgent case. He suggested that I go private - this is what I did and it was really useful - the private consultant saw me in two weeks and then wrote to my GP with suggestions for my treatment. Yes it cost about £400 but, for me, that was money well spent.

Thank you for reply. I'm sorry to hear about that. I know right? my dad told me to check my health in Peru when I get the option to flight, I will to be honest I think it will be cheaper and faster :(

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