British Lung Foundation

Do I have asthma?

Hello! I'm 16, and I'm trying to figure my life out haha. I've always wanted to go into military service, but it just occurred to me that my past and current state might be an issue when it's time to sign up and get things ready. So basically, when I was 8, was when I originally got bronchitis and it cleared up with just steroids, but then it came back at age 9, and then 11 and then the last time was at 12. The last three times, I was given inhalers (i had different doctor's every time and they liked to give them out like candy) to help clear up some congestion, but I was never diagnosed with asthma. I was always just told "you might, so to be safe we'll give you this." Years past, and i did have some difficulty when I exercised, but it was honestly mainly due to my diet and how inactive I was as a kid when I grew into my teen years trying to become more active. Now I'm 16, and working out just fine, but I noticed sometimes in the morning when I go for a run, there's the faintest wheeze when I breathe in, but I can get rid of it when I clear my throat. And I also have A LOT of mucus. It's definitely cleared up the past month, because I'm still kind of recovering from sinusitis that I got in April. (Weird, i know). I hate having to spit up so much and the sound of the slight wheeze makes me anxious that I might have asthma. I went to get a spirometer test done with a new doctor, but the nurse administered the test to me incorrectly (she didn't give me nose plugs, so my lung function came back at ridiculously low number) and the doctor told me to go see a specialist. But I can't just go see a specialist, they're expensive. Everyone keeps telling me ill be fine, and if I have asthma then i "would know", but it still just makes me anxious in case I do. My doctor said there's cases of people with asthma that work out just fine like me, but their asthma is "controlled", (she thinks I have exercised induced asthma) so that would disqualify me from the military. But I honestly have never had an asthma attack, and I haven't felt the need to use an inhaler in over 3 years, other than the very faint wheezing (until I clear my throat) and the mucus in the back of my throat that I need to spit up, and also very rarely, when I laugh really hard, there's like a rattling sound, but of course, she was worried I was lying and gave me another inhaler anyway. So what do you guys think? Are there any at home tests I can do to see if I do?

Edit for anyone who cares haha: I went to see a specialist and I took my mother with me. I passed the spirometry with flying colors with a 98% lung function, but he gave me this FeNO test that I've never done before. He said my number had to be under 25, I scored a 28. He told me he had to assume I was growing out of my asthma because of my number and I told him my allergies were really bad that day and I was coughing and had chest congestion and he said the test picked up that I was sick, but because I was doing cross country this school year, he gave me rescue inhalers as a precaution. It was so great to hear that this won't hold me back in my dream career and I want to thank you all who replied with your advice. You really made a difference and without it, I wouldn't have given the effort to have seen the specialist and have given up my dream. (:

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Hello Sevensixtytorr, nice to meet you. It sounds as if you are from the US so l understand how expensive health care can be.

You do need a doctor to take things seriously and do a proper spirometry test to check for asthma. I hope you get good results for your future career. Good luck to you. Xx

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Thank you for replying, you're completely right. I guess I just wanted to hear from someone who might've had a similar background to me or maybe someone asthmatic to tell me if I match up to what they experience.

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Hi there, Your symptoms do not seem to be of asthma but the fact that you produce a lot of mucus could mean that you have a different lung condition or simply an untreated lung infection. I'm sorry but we are not doctors here and so to find out and get properly treated you will need to find a way to see a respiratory consultant. Alternatively, when you sign up they will give you full medicals and a chest xray and you would find out then. Unfortunately that may mean that you are disappointed in your ambition to join the military. I do think that you need proper treatment for whatever the problem is now. Good luck.

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I know eventually I need to see one, but it'll probably be a while from now and I guess I just want to know if I need to give up on my dream. But I'm not sure if how much mucus I produce is normal or not. My mother has told me in her marathon running days, she used to have to spit up too and she is not asthmatic. I have the same problem.

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Never give up on your dreams until every avenue has been explored.

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Do you take a preventer?

There will be some pretty heavy exercise in the military- I wouldn't risk it - but my asthma is worse and I'm 73lol! I don't know what you should do - Is there an army reserve group you could try first /weekends etc. My daughter did it in Australia but was not asthmatic- Goid luck.

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I considered that too, but I was reading symptoms online and that sounds a lot worse than what I have. I don't have any trouble breathing when I work out at all.

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The only person who can diagnose you is a medical doctor. Using the Internet or having people here guess what your condition may be is not really helpful to you and may cause a lot of unnecessary worry or may mean you miss something serious. Do go back to your doctor.

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With all due respect and I thank you for your reply, but for what? For her to ignore everything I'm feeling again and prescribe me with another inhaler that I don't really need?

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Get a parent or other adult to go with you and press for a proper diagnosis. That is the only place you are going to get one. Good luck to you.

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this is why you need a respiratory specialist. General doctors are notoriously ignorant when it comes to respiratory problems. I lived in Florida for two years in my thirties. I have had bronchiectasis all of my life. I had a flare up and needed antibiotics but an American doctor said that there was no such thing as bronchiectasis! Happily since then my British consultant taught the American Thoracic Society that it does!

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That's horrific! Opinions between gp's can differ so much too. I have mild bronchiectasis and get some asthma from worse infection-. One dr refused antibiotics unless I have a temperature. Changed drs next day and she sent me for a sputum test and with the result said you must have a'ics for this infection.

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Hi Seventysixty, , the thing is, if you do have asthma - or any other lung disease - the best way to manage it is with an inhaler. A preventive (they come in different strengths) and a rescue inhaler which we often take before exercise as a way of managing our condition. The other thing is to think about your future health.

If I were you I'd follow my dreams but also have a back up plan.

Good luck, P

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When I was coughing up alot of mucus (which I hate too) i read up on things that can cause mucus build up, so as to limit the amount I was producing.. so no dairy or fried food. Drink lots of water, and eat food with vitamin C (tomatoes, cucumbers,broccoli ) Ginger is good for breaking down toxins and is a natural anti-inflammatory.

I don't know how your health system works so I'm not sure if your in a position to have an allergy test, this was one of the first things my doctors did, which helps rule a few things out.

take care xx

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Dairy food doesn't cause more mucus but it does make it thicker and harder to cough up. If you make sure you drink lots of water you will thin it down. One of my sisters cut out dairy completely because she had a bad cough.

She then reintroduced it one by one and found she was intolerant of cows milk and ice cream. As long as she stays off those her cough is gone.

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just try and take an adult with you to the doctors and insist on getting tested properly

I have seen some specialists here in Britain and it is amazing what you can find out and how to cope with your asthma

mrsmummy is correct in saying take an adult

your condition may not exclude you from the armed forces

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ps

good luck and keep us all posted on how you get on

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You could have mild asthma, I have had bronchial asthma all my life, I had it when I was a forthnight old and am in my 70's now, I also did four years as a WRAF and it did not stop me, Asthma should not stop you doing anything as long as you take your medication and do not go over the top when you exercise, I did running and navigational trips in training at Spitalgate and it actually improved my lungs, sometimes the more you do the better your lungs get, but please do not over do it, and make sure you always get plenty of rest, as without sleep, it can exacerbate your lungs worse. I try as best as I can to avoid anyone with a cold as, they have a cold for about a couple of days and I end of with bronchial asthma, and it lasts for weeks sometimes months, and had pneumonia for three months and eventually got over it in March this year, but now have bronchitectist which can be quite debilitating, but you must not let it take over your life, you are still young, so go out there and enjoy your life, dont let it hold you back, have fun enjoy music, laugh as I think laughter is the music of the soul. Live your life to the full as much as you can.

We only have one life and we are all on borrowed time. Good luck with your health and whatever you do in life.

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