I have been suffering with breathing difficulties for 2 years, following a severe chest infection. My breathing never got back to normal. I've tried to get help from the GP several times, but was told for the first year that 'it takes time to recover from chest infections' and in the second year that my breathlessness was 'due to stress about Covid'.
A month ago, I finally got a face-to-face with a GP who actually listened to my symptoms, did a peak flow test and said 'I think you have asthma'. She sent me for some bloods & x-rays, told me to record my peak flow for a month and then bring the record back to my next appointment so they could confirm diagnosis. But by that point, Omicron meant no face-to-face appointments. I had a two-minute phone call from a different GP who said 'based on your medical records & test results I'm diagnosing asthma and prescribing a preventative inhaler which you can pick up from the pharmacy tomorrow. We'll see you in 4 or 5 months time to see how you're doing'. And that's been it. (I got given a reliever inhaler by the first GP, just to see if it helped - it did - so I have that too)
I know literally NOTHING about asthma. I have three main concerns.
1) I have an outdoor job. The first GP to mention asthma told me I should avoid being out in very cold, rainy or foggy weather (I really struggle to breathe in rain or fog), and when I told her about my job, she said once diagnosis was confirmed, I'd be able to discuss what impact it might have on my ability to do the job - obviously, now that's not possible, and I have no idea if I should keep working as normal, if I need to make any changes or even if I need to look for a new job that's indoors.
2) Linked to that - everything I read keeps talking about contacting your GP if your asthma is not 'under control' and also about monitoring peak flow and either going to the GP or to hospital if it drops 'below normal'. How do I know if it's under control or not? How bad do I have to be to need to call the surgery and when is it bad enough that I should go to A&E? I don't want to cause any hassle when the NHS is already so overwhelmed, but it's scary struggling to breathe and not knowing how much worse it's going to get.
3) How long does the maintenance inhaler take to work? The GP said I shouldn't have to use the reliever much, if at all, once I had the maintenance one, but the leaflet with the maintenance one said it would take a while to take effect. And I'm having to use the reliever the maximum amount because of the weather - when should this ease off?