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British Lung Foundation
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Very frightening - I hate COPD!!!

We had a lovely day yesterday - lunch with friends who are visiting from abroad and then on to see My Mum - yes we had eaten so my husband wasn't feeling too good when we got to my mums' but a cup of tea and a biscuit and we were back on our way home. Well it should have been that simple! The weather had turned and unfortunately you have to walk about 50 yards from her front door to the car in a bitter bitter wind. We had our 11 year old daughter with us - I went to bring the car as close as possible and my daughter and husband set off walking to the car. I noticed he was walking a bit quickly but thought nothing of it, jumped out of the drivers seat and gave my Mum a hug and dashed round to passengers side. The drivers seat was closest and my husband prefers to drive. What I had not realised is the impact of tiredness, the bitter wind, snow and cold. He was horrendously breathless and was just not coming round. He was upright and could indicate he needed his coat unzipping, his gloves off but was scarily breathless. I turned to my daughter, saw her face and realised her fear and told her she could back into Grans ( I thought we needed an ambulance) - With that my husband set off driving !! with the windows open and his head hung out! I was furious and shouted that he had to pull over. He did - jumped out of the car and stood holding the door frame for about 15 minutes whilst he slowly recovered. He did recover.

But a thought has occurred to me - this hasn't happened for over 3 years and the last time was the result of a bad infection. It is not just breathlessness it is also complete and utter panic- which I completely understand having had asthma since I was a child. Firstly for the last week he has been moaning about the pillows - it is the first sign that something is not quite right. Odd I know but thats the way it is! I had been ignoring because actually there is not much I can do. However when he was so breathless he couldnt take his inhalers properly - I think I got more ventolin than he did and the same with the symbicort so am going to talk to the doctors to get a spacer. If I had had a spacer and been able to give him the ventolin the whole episode may not have accelerated.

He recovered and we have had words about him driving off! His fear was hospital and he is terrified. But just to add to the confusion on the drive home about 40 mins. my daughter had another dizzy spell (been in hospital 3 days two weeks ago for her odd fainting spells with other symptoms) and fainted! But I really feel that was just the shock of seeing him so bad!

Just wondered if any of you suffer with episodes like these more regularly and what strategies you use to help. Thank you

11 Replies

Hi Tadaw, Yes, a very frightening experience, for all concerned. I am not sure if the spacer would have helped much, but maybe. Me personally, if this happens in the house, I have learned to lean forward on a table or chair, and concentrate on pursed lip breathing, to try and take the mind off panic. My husband gently rubs my back too which helps a lot. I have also recently been given lorazepam, to put half a tablet under the tongue during a panic attack. There are lots of things that can help, so please discuss them with the GP or respiratory nurse...............yes the fear of hospital doesnt help matters either.

hope this helped a little.

best wishes , ingrid.


Thank you Ingy - I will be talking to the respiratory nurse - our GPs have changed again. Found I get better advise from the practise nurse. I usually rub my husbands back - but because he was stuck in the drivers seat yesterday it was just a series of unfortunate incidents! I will ask about lorazepam. Take care. TAD xx


Hi Tadaw,

Horrible experience for you all. Somewhere in my travels trawling through the internet, I came across a tip for dealing with panic and not being able to breathe, which was to lean forward and concentrate on family. This is supposed to redivert the brain from telling the lungs you need more breathe into more positive thoughts. I have actually tried it and it works quite well and gets me to a point where I can control my breathing.

Hope all goes well.



Thank you I will pass this straight on! TAD xx


so sorry to hear about your bad time yesterday, hope your hubby and daughter are feeling better . Has your daughter had any tests re her fainting dizzy spells for epilepsy? My son had the same symptoms as a teenager and was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy, the doctors believed it was possible that it was brought on by stress .Thankfully he eventually grew out of it. Hope you all have a better day best wishes. xxx


My husband was up in the night on the neb but seems much better than I hoped! Daughter shipped off to school. Thank you she has had lots of tests - 2x MRI scans, an ECG, bloods and neurological tests. I am keeping a diary and the thought at the moment is possibly hormonal (she is already well into puberty) but have been told everyone can have one unexplained episode but no more and we are back at the hospital next month. Good to hear that your son grew out of it. Thank you for your wishes. TAD xxx


Hi Tadaw..i had to call an ambulance last Thursday cos i had the same as your husband..it came on slowly the increase in my breathing as i was sitting late at night watching telly.and then i realized i was in trouble and i think once you know your going to have an attack panic sets in and things get worse cos with the panic you body gets tense and so does your lungs which helps to close the airways apart from any phlegm that is there so it gets worse all the time..my oxygen companion bottle was empty and i dare not move to go outside to fill it up so i reached for the phone and told the operator to tell the ambulance crew to bring into the house there oxygen they carry with them..they were with me an hour which in this time they helped me outside to my outbuilding to fill my bottle up with oxygen ..i had been on my hands and knees for an hour and a half before i called them which was a stupid thing to do cos i get these regular and i should know by now what to do..forgot to say when it gets bad like what we experience inhalers don`t help even if we had the breath to inhale lol..i live alone now so i must have more sense in future and your husband must get the inhalers into him before things get worse and if he has oxygen then carry it with you everytime you go out just in case if you don`t have oxygen then call an ambulance .. tell him good luck for the future and stay well as can be Bob..ps.if you don`t have oxygen then see your doc about it.

never give up..


Thank you - actually it is relief to know other people have these attacks! Though not great for you. This weather is just horrendous for COPDers. Hope you are feeling better. Take good care TAD xx


I know that down on the hands and knees too well, on my last stay in hospital the ward sister sat on my bed when I was gasping and talked me through it, starting with pursed lip breathing and working downwards to breathing out like sighing

The consultant got an expert to come and talk to me about panic and how to control it (I bet she has never been desperate for air) but it did help I then knew what was causing it and how to control it, what I needed was a way to stop it happening in the first place, so I tried hypnotism. It has certainly changed my life, he explained, like the medical experts had, that a lot of my problem was in my mind, I like your husband would have hit panic level one in the cold and a walk to do, but I can now control it before it happens. Things that panicked me at home, shower, toilet, getting dressed or going out of the house to the car or like a lot of others needing a wee are now so much easier. His explanation was my sub-conscious was trying to protect me by telling my brain not to do it, whatever it was it helped.

I hope both your Daughter and Husband feel better soon



Thank you Maurice that is really interesting. Both are much better thank you TAD xx


I get the same problem mostly in the morning and i have had it few times in the day .

When i first fond this site and i asked for advice i was told to take my ventolin and my spiriva to bed with me which i do now and i know when i am going to have a attack so i take spiriva before i get out of bed and my ventolin i carry it with me.when it happens i take 3 puffs try to count to count 5 and take a nother 3 and gulp it and that works for me hope it helps .but it is only your husband can control his on breathing at this time slow and easy


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