Puzzled by asthma symptoms and then n... - Asthma UK communi...

Asthma UK community forum

17,961 members22,284 posts

Puzzled by asthma symptoms and then no symptoms

Downbytheriverside profile image

Last year I suffered from symptoms that lead me to suspect late onset asthma. On several occasions I woke in the night with difficulty breathing. I was suffering from frequent coughing fits and on two terrifying occasions found my self gasping for breath after a short walk.

Phone conversations with my GP lead her to give a tentative diagnosis of late onset asthma, exacerbated by and triggered by hay fever. I took over the counter anti histamines and used a reliever inhaler. After some time and poor peak flow readings I was given a preventer inhaler. I was also tested for Covid which proved negative. I was given an antigen test which seemed to rule out Covid.

This summer I’m totally clear of any symptoms and have had no need for either inhaler. I still take anti-histamine. I am mid 60s. Can I have recovered or was this asthma? Very puzzled. Owing to Covid etc I have never had a consultant diagnosis.

13 Replies

Not everyone would have a consultant diagnosis anyway - most asthma can be controlled and well managed at GP level.

It is strange that you now have no symptoms without medication (I assume you haven't taken your preventer inhaler for some while?) - which perhaps indicates it wasn't asthma. Having said that, a preventer inhaler takes about 8 weeks to kick in so, if you did suddenly have symptoms, it wouldn't be effective for a couple of months if you reinstated it

Thanks for your reply. I’ve explained further in reply to Troilus. I’m coming to the conclusion it wasn’t asthma, but what else I don’t know.

Hi there. I was a bit like you. Woke up sometimes in the night with a dry itchy cough, but then it would go away. It was annoying, but nothing I thought I needed to consult a doctor about. Occasionally a bit short of breath which I put down to getting that wee bit older.Then one night, dry irritable cough the wham! Life threatening asthma attack, aged 62.

Since then I have religiously taken my preventer, and apart from one or two minor hiccups I have had no problems.

I suppose my message is, that it could well be that you are doing well because of the medication you are taking.

I wouldn’t stop without talking to your GP, and if possible reduce dosage before stopping altogether - at one point I was very stable so my Fostair was reduced to 100/6, but I started having attacks so it was put back up, and now I’m fine. That might be a route you could try.

I’m not now taking any medication. I haven’t needed the Reliever since last year. My GP suggested reducing the Preventer inhaler. My highest dose was 2 puffs morning and night. I took this medication from August last year through to April this year, slowly reducing.

I must admit I do still wonder if I might have had a case of Covid last year. I was tested for Covid quite a long time after the symptoms started so a test might still have proved negative. Still the antigen test was negative. Although I kept isolated last year my husband didn’t become ill. I’m still puzzled.

The antibody test might not be conclusive - if it was after antibodies had worn off it would be negative but you could have still had it and I know of people who had 2 positive PCRs last spring (for the same case of covid) yet about 6 weeks later had a negative antibody test.

Covid would definitely be a possibility. Tricky to say though. A lot of people will have been diagnosed with possible asthma after covid when it's not asthma, or worsened asthma when it's not worsened asthma.

But given it's all been reduced in a sensible way and you've been fine since then it doesn't sound like asthma. Maybe allergy if you're still on the antihistamines? Allergy symptoms can include coughing etc which are allergy but not asthma if that makes sense?

I guess all you can do is contact your GP asap if your symptoms return.

Hi! Your situation sounds identical to mine. I had private health insurance and as a result have been through literally endless rounds of tests with different specialists. They also thought I had asthma initially and gave me inhalers. The only reason I've now eventually questioned it is because it did happen again this year, but this time they put me on steroids to help it and the steroids did little to nothing!! As a result they then looked into cardiac stuff and that all came back negative. Now at long last someone has told me to look up "breathing pattern disorder" and I'm convinced this is part of (if not all of) what I've had all along! I'm now working with a physio on this and it does seem to be getting better. It causes so many similar symptoms to asthma and also to panic attacks but it is not the same thing at all and has a totally different treatment method. Shortness of breath, muscle strain, chest tightness, dizziness. I've stopped taking the antihistamines ( as I had an allergy test that proved categorically I did not have any allergies) and now I'm doing the exercises and things do seem to be getting marginally better. Thought I'd share in case it's helpful.

I did think a long while ago it sounded like that and I'm really glad that you've got support to improve things as many people just sort of get left to fix it themselves - just because something might not be asthma doesn't mean it's easy to live with or fix. I hope things continue to improve for you! 😃

Thank you for your reply. Something CanadianBrit30 has just said has focused my thinking about other symptoms I’ve been experiencing. A dreadful period of stress last year set off some other symptoms which has made me rethink the asthma diagnosis. I’m going to have a chat with my GP again.

Stress is a big asthma mimic as it can cause very similar symptoms, as do breathing pattern disorders (which can be triggered by all sorts of things). There are some links in this post about it in case they're of interest: healthunlocked.com/asthmauk...

Great post and links. Thank you

Hello there. I think you’ve hit on something here. I’ve been reading about breathing pattern disorder. My symptoms started last year after a period of appalling stress.

During March and April 2020 my elderly mother, who lived alone, began slipping into dementia. With care systems in crisis because of Covid I was unable to find any help. To cut a long story short I finally found my mother some respite care. The asthma symptoms began some time after that but I made no connection to the terrible stress I experienced at that time.

I will do some more research because I’m suffering some other unconnected symptoms which I know are connected to stress. Thank you for this information. I have a decent GP and will try and have a chat. Unfortunately they are pretty busy at present.

So glad it has been helpful. I'm happy to send you some links and resources if you send me your emails address in a private chat. I hope it helps!

Hi.I've been through a similar situation, I am 39years old.

In January 2020 I woke up one day not able to breathe properly, like an elephant was sitting on my chest.

I attended A&E and had a chest xray but they couldn't find anything. Was put on antibiotics for a week and felt a little bit better but in the 9th day it hit me worse than before. I ended up not being able to climb the stairs to go upstairs or go for a short walk, the shortness of breathe was awful, I kept yawning and lifting my shoulders to let some air in.

I had another chest xray, was tested for Pulmonary Embolism and it came back negative, I saw a Cardiologist who ruled out heart problems, my Pulmonary tests were normal but I felt like dying. By March 2020 I developed a cough too and couldn't even finish a sentence. Eventually, I was seen by a Respiratory Consultant who suspected asthma, gave me a short course of Prednisolone and inhalers (Ventolin and Fostair) "to see how it goes".

It took roughly a month to see some improvement. The Ventolin didn't help at all so I just continued with Fostair, maximum dose for a couple more months. I then started to reduce the number of daily puffs to 4/day and continued like this until this year. From May this year, I realised I didn't need the inhalers so often and ended up using Fostair a couple of times/week and stopped using it altogether from July. I still feel a pressure on my chest every now and again, mainly weather-related, but it quickly goes away.

Looking back I do not have any other explanation than Covid. I may be wrong, who knows?!

Between Jan-March 2020 I had other symptoms as well: muscle pain, extreme fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness and nobody could explain those. And both chest xrays were fine, Surprisingly, my breathing was at its best when I slept and never had a typical asthma attack but was struggling throughout the day with the 'weight' on my chest.

Nobody tested me for Covid in January 2020 when my symptoms started as not much was known about it then. I had an antibody test in Aug2020 but came back negative, it was too late by then anyway.

I do have a history of atopy and had several episodes of pneumonia as a child, this may have contributed to this. I am just glad I am feeling so much better now!

You may also like...