What was in the nebuliser?

Sorry, everybody - I think this might turn out to be quite an essay!

Maybe you remember me writing on here about having to cancel our holiday to Greece because of a COPD exacerbation? That was early June and since then, all has been well. The insurance company paid out (hoorah) and we spent some money on doing up our dining room, which involved lots of shopping, tidying up, shifting boxes, shifting furniture etc. No problem with my breathing at all - through all of it.

Monday, we went shopping in various stores and I felt that my breathing 'wasn't quite right' - ok - I could walk alright, but it was a bit 'off'. Then, that evening, both hubby and me suffered sudden sore throats and chest congestion! Oh, no. Tuesday, I had a bit of a temperature and a headache - so took paracetamol. Breathing was ok still - dry cough. Wednesday, breathing became uncomfortable. Couldn't walk upstairs without pausing (I usually run up the stairs) and O2 had dropped to 91 (usually 96/97). As per my instructions, I used the Ventolin inhaler. That did nothing to help my breathing and sent me into a spiral of anxiety. My breathing became frantic. Chest heaving - gasping for breath. I tried to sleep downstairs so as to avoid having to go upstairs (had to pee in an old spaghetti container!!) - but eventually went upstairs to bed but didn't sleep. All night I was coughing up dark green stuff and breathing, even laying down, was dreadful.

Thursday morning, hub called the surgery. They are VERY good when you mention COPD. One of the doctors phoned back and, after listening to me and my moaning, he said another doctor would call at lunchtime. The doctor (a new one) arrived and she was lovely. Said it was probably a viral infection, but gave me antibiotics anyway. Doxycycline. A relief because I generally get Amoxycillin which makes me very ill and doesn't work! She also prescribed me steroids, but after listening to my moaning about how they affect me adversely, suggested I see how I was in 24 hours - and if was no better, to take the steroids. I took the first dose of Doxy in the afternoon (always with anxiety - as I've had allergic reactions to an antibiotic before - came out in hives and had to call ambulance). Breathing, though, continued to get worse. Copious amounts of junk coughed up. Decided to try the other inhaler I'd been given as a alternative to Ventolin. Can't remember the name - begins with B (I think!) Big mistake! By 7pm, I was in the biggest panic ever - just couldn't catch my breath or get comfortable. Literally crawled up the stairs to try to relax on the bed. Couldn't even do that! I realised I was hyperventilating, but couldn't stop and finally got to the point where I felt there was absolutely no air in the room and I couldn't breathe at all. I banged on the floor with my feet. Hubby came running. 'Call an ambulance,' I said - 'I'm about to die'.

The ambulance men were lovely - really lovely - and so kind. They gave me a thorough examination. My lungs are clear, apparently - so where the heck is all this disgusting gunk coming from? Temperature, slight. Bp ok. O2, 91. Blood glucose 4.5. They even did an ECG, which was fine, apart from my heart was beating a little too fast. But the very best thing they did was to stick a nebuliser on my face - this was attached to an oxygen cylinder, but there was something in the nebuliser and I didn't think to ask what it was. Does anybody know what it's likely to have been? It worked absolute wonders on me. My breathing became normal almost immediately. I was on it for about half an hour and when I came off my O2 was 98 (it soon dropped to 91 again though!). And ever since, although my breathing still isn't wonderful, I am feeling so much better. I would be very happy to purchase whatever it was, to use in an emergency such as I had yesterday. It's very frustrating to me that all the inhalers I've been given do nothing to ease my breathing - they just make me worse.

Thanks for listening! :)

17 Replies

  • Hi

    Normally it is Salbutamol , ( ventolin ) in a higher dosage . The equivalent to twelve puffs of your inhaler.

    Do you not have a home rescue pack, antibiotics and steroids?

    Do you not have a home action plan?

  • Salbutamol! That's interesting, thanks stone. It's odd that puffs from the Ventolin inhaler make me worse! The nebuliser was like heaven!

    I do have a home action plan. It says, in the event of worsening of breathing, coloured sputum, to use Ventolin 3x day (I never use the Ventolin otherwise - don't need it) - and if, after 2 days, symptoms haven't improved, to contact the surgery. I don't have a home rescue pack - I'm given those drugs once I contact the surgery. I do have quite a stockpile of amoxycillin though (doctor double prescribed, so that I had a supply 'in the cupboard') - but they have never really worked.

    I don't understand any of this. I must have had copd for at least 10 years, according to the medics, to have got down to FEV1 56% - and yet I had NEVER had problems like I have since my diagnosis. I have had hundreds of colds etc, but no problems with my breathing other than the normal chesty cough and slight breathlessness. I was only tested for copd after complaining about infrequent slight breathlessness of an evening (which I had put down to brushing the cat!) And yet, since I was diagnosed in February, I have had 3 exacerbations! Does anybody else worry that their immune system is compromised by all these antibiotics, so that you go into a spiral of exacerbation after exacerbation?

  • Read on this site that it is the "bug "rather than the individual that can become immune to an antibiotic .......so you should be okay to take them as and when needed .( l hadn't realised this before )

  • Thanks coastal1.

  • Hi Frankie42, that sounded really scary. I agree with stone that it was probably a higher dose of ventolin. Pete has ventolin in a nebuliser along with 3 other drugs and they do help. I think there must be something going round because my daughter, who does not have any breathing problems at all, has been bringing up green muck for nearly 2 weeks now. She has this productive cough and temperature but feels fine. She has the Amoxycillin which is not working at the moment but she is continuing as wants to finish the course. I am just praying that Pete does not catch this bug as he does have copd and sarcoidosis. Oh dear, there is always something isn't there? I do wish you well. xxxxx

  • Hi sassy59. I think I will ask if I can have a nebuliser (or buy one) for use in emergencies. Does your husband use the nebuliser with oxygen. I'm so ignorant on all these things!

    I'm sorry your daughter has this bug. The green gunk is disgusting! I hope she gets better soon and that your husband doesn't catch it. My husband's chest infection has now moved to his nose! I really don't know where the infection came from! If it weren't for my hub also having it, I might have blamed my sister in law for my exacerbation - because, despite being asked not to wear perfume (she likes the very strong stuff) when she visits, she visited on Saturday reeking the whole house out! I didn't say anything - she's a lovely lady.

    I am feeling much better today. Perhaps the doxycycline is working. I feel a little lightheaded and tired, but my breathing is almost back to normal and my o2 has gone up to 94. I'm not going to start on the steroids, at least not for now, because I don't think I need them and don't want to take them unnecessarily. I am so very thankful. Yesterday, I was so bad that I remember muttering to my husband that I would kill myself rather than spend my life feeling like that!!

  • Hi

    Unless the GP agrees don't buy a nebuliser, the medication used is prescription only, not all GP will prescribe nebuliser, mine will not, it is a much higher dosage, equals greater side effects. there is a danger of getting to use.

    If he/she sees a benefit you may be able to have a machine on loan.

  • Yes, I'm sure you're right, stone. The doctors at our practise differ enormously, so I'll have to pick the right one to ask!

    Wouldn't it be nice though, if we could all have this equipment (just for emergencies) in our home rescue kit - it would probably save a lot of paramedic callouts. I can see the impractabilities (sp?) though.

  • This has happened to me on numerous occasions as I have severe of Emphysema..When the paramedics come out they give me , o2 ventolin and the one that brings my breathing back to normal is Atrovent..I have this and ventolin four times daily, this has stopped my exacerbations..I have a hospital nebuliser at home, you should be able to get one also..Hope this helps Laura ...

  • Thanks, Laura. You mean that using these two inhalers daily protects you from exacerbations, like from colds and such?

    The doctor who called on me yesterday morning, said she would like me to pop down the surgery when I felt better to discuss the inhalers available to me. To be absolutely honest, I would rather not use any unless I have to. But this sort of protection would be great.

  • To be honest Franki, every one is different although we all suffer with lung conditions we can be at the same stage of the disease but react differently and your dr may try you on different inhalers, through trial and error hun..I think over the yearsI have tried most of the inhalers available, but I did for no reason start to have exacerbations and quite serious ones, this scared me so much as it would happen for no reason.I think anxiety played a big part later on as anything would start me off and I ended up in resus.....

    The dr in the hospital stopped my spiriva and gave me Ventolin and Atrovent to be used together in the nebs four times daily.This works for me and opens my airways quite quickly..Apparently I can't use the Spiriva with the Atrovent as it can affect the eyes.!! So its one or the other ..The dr gave me Lorazipan for anxiety which helps a lot ..Good luck and I really wish you well.Laura x

  • I don't think inhalers protect you from colds and such hun,although they do help, but taking care of yourself will.Regular exercise,eating well,and many other things , so ask your dr for leaflets on taking care of yourself with a lung disease..Believe it or not going from warm room to cold room can affect you,something as silly as that..Damp spores,bird droppings loads of things..

    Over the years I have read up on so many things regarding my lung condition, and its like you have to try a few things until you find whats right for you..good luck sweetie....

  • could be a number of drugs,but ventolin,seems to be the one most used,i have it four times a day through a nebuliser and it really does open the airways,you must have had a respotary tract infection aaaaa2all in your tubes",go chat to your docter and explain,he should send you to a resp nurse who can evaluate you for a nebuliser and the dosage if you need it,dont go off and do it yourself,the nebuliser puts the atomised drug deep into the lungs

    it takes a long time to get back on your feet,take it steady

  • Thanks squady, I will talk to my gp.

    <it takes a long time to get back on your feet,take it steady>

    Great advise - thanks! I was meant to visit my (nearly) 90-year-old father today - but, of course, I didn't go. My husband went though. Father phoned me at around 4 (waking both me and the cat up!) Conversation (one-sided) went like this: 'Terry's on his way home. I hope he gets home safely. I'm sure he will. He said you weren't well. At home pampering yourself, no doubt - while others (meaning him) with far worse problems than yours, just get on with things.'

    Gee, thanks for your call, dad!

  • Most likely it was a mixture of salbutamol (Ventolin = aame as in blue inhaler) and ipratropium bromide (Atrovent = very similar to Spiriva, but short acting). This is what most paramedics use for breathlessness attacks.

    I wrote about this some time ago. I'll find the link and post it.

    breathe easy


  • This article is about how we breathe. Towards the end of the article is an explanation ofwhat you went through.


  • Thank you for this, John - very interesting. I have a degree in geoscience (got when in my 50's!), so only a little knowledge of biology - certainly hardly anything on human anatomy. But I love to delve and question things - gets me into trouble all of the time - especially with doctors!

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