Scary asthma attack this morning, a mini-rant/worry


Okay this is basically the same sort of message I sent to my friend, and it is my long worry. I just am scared. I am so thankful that all worked out well, but I still can’t get to sleep. I don’t know, it will just help me feel better to get it out of my system. Of course I told my boyfriend already. But I’m afraid to talk to too many people about it, because I hate to make them as scared as I am. That would worry me even more. So thanks for putting up with this rant-ish worry. I hope that my visit to the allergist will solve many problems. (I got diagnosed with asthma a month and a half ago, had it since Jan or Feb, I think).

I thought you might like to know (sorry I didn’t write earlier) but I had to go to the hospital today because of a really bad asthma attack. Well, today meaning yesterday, the 15th, just so you know. Just walking from my car to the library made me cough like crazy. But I thought I was okay after the albuterol. So I kept on working, and got the bookdrop. When I came back in, I had a rough time of it, that my boss got all worried, she was like, what can you do for it? I told her, I took albuterol, and can take more in 20 minutes. She said, well, what can you do in the meantime? I was like, Not too much. But I know if I start passing out then we can call the hospital. She was like “Oh.”

So I kept working, it felt like it stopped, just my chest was really tight. But then I was coughing again, and still kept coughing, then I stopped, and I had to pause because I was all lightheaded and feeling weird. My boss said, Why don’t you sit down, then you can take albuterol, then go home. At first it was like she thought of the staff room, but then made me sit out where everybody can keep an eye on me so I don’t die on them. I kinda started crying a little bit, because I was a bit scared, and I was sad I made them scared too. So I took albuterol and left after spending only 45 minutes at work. (She wanted me to call when I got home safely, too).

So I called Mom, saying I was on the way home and told her why. She offered to pick me up, but I thought i could make it, because I had just taken albuterol again. But I started really coughing again once I got on the road, and kept on coughing, and you know how it feels when you don’t have air? Your vision gets kinda weird, like you’re almost blacking out? Well, I did 60 mph on a 40 mph road. (I thought if a cop caught me, I’d drive home where Mom and Dad could take care of me, then they can talk to me. Most likely they’d see it was a time of urgent need. There were no cops on the road than goodness).

As soon as I got home and I got out of the car, I felt all weak, like I didn’t have any strength, and as soon as I got inside, I guess I looked like I was about to passout, so Mom grabbed her purse and we went to the hospital. First time I was directly admitted in the emergency room. Usually they make you wait. (Last time I went I had chest pains, and the time before was when my sister knocked herself out cold, and I went to help Mom since she was pregnant).

Got a good albuterol treatment, and boy did that help. Then they gave me steroid pills, then I was waiting for an hour so they can be sure I was under control, then I came home. I couldn’t go back to work because, like right now, it still feels like it will go off again if I do any triggers. Like moving around too fast. I feel much better now, than before. But I’m slightly afraid to fall asleep because I don’t want to have an asthma attack and not know it. Irrational, but reasonable, because it was kinda scary today. I found out from my boyfriend that he’d never been hospitalized for asthma before, so he said mine is worse than he is (and I thought his was pretty bad).

I thought you would like to know :slight_smile: I’m doing better now. I’m going to work tomorrow anyway, just move around carefully and don’t stir up dust. I kinda need the money to make up for the money I didn’t make today. But I promise, I will be careful. I’m just still scared. I can’t laugh or cry too much, because that was triggering it too, today, made it worse. I don’t know, I’m just scared. I’m waiting until Wednesday when I can see the allergist who my boyfriend uses for his asthma, she’s really good.


Hey Holly,

I am glad to hear you are OK and are feeling better now! As someone who has lived with severe asthma since I was 10(ish) I know exactly what you went through. It is one of the most terrifying experiences of your life when you start loosing consciousness because of asthma… I have had it happen 3 times in my life and it is something that I would not like to repeat. I realize that you are ‘new’ to the condition, but it is very important to note your limitations and the warning signs. I find that if I have to use my inhaler (albuterol) more than twice in less than 4 hours something is wrong.

The problem with asthma is that after you have had it for a while (it is likely you have had it without knowing it) you can get to the point where even though it is acting up, you don’t notice it because your body gets used to the lower oxygen intake. This leads to dangerous situations which can result in attacks like the one you experienced. You should ask your doctor to see if you can get a peak flow meter, which will allow you to get an idea of what your normal airflow is, so when you feel you are not doing well, you know exactly where you stand.

Also keep in mind that the steroid they put you on probably does not help you to sleep. I don’t know what they put you on (advair? prednisone? pulmicort? flovent?) but depending, some don’t help you ‘relax’ by any means. The same goes for the albuterol as well… you will find yourself getting shaky. This is because it also increases your heart rate. You might find yourself feeling tired after a treatment or the inhaler, but during it there is no hope of sleeping (it doesn’t help with the anxiety either!)

Just be proactive with your asthma, learn from this experience but don’t let it make you insecure… I am sure you will be fine.



I am so sorry you had to go through that… it sounds horrible. :frowning:

I’m glad you’re feeling better though. Hopefully with the proper medication, you won’t have to repeat that anytime soon?

I said a prayer for you.


Kevin, I’m sorry you have had to go through that experience too, but it is nice to know that I am not alone! And I think I’m starting to experience what you described…I think I am getting used to the lower oxygen flow and it probably did lead to the attack, since I didn’t notice it early enough. I will definitely ask my allergist about a peak-flow meter at my appointment on Wednesday.

My primary care physician put me on Advair (100/50) and it helped the symptoms, but not well enough, obviously. I can’t imagine what it would be like without this ineffective Advair. At the hosptial they put me on prednisone to last me until my appt with the allergist, and you’re right, it does not help with sleep matters at all! I slept about 4, 4 1/2 hours last night, and I am worn out, but I’m not sleepy. Now I know what my boyfriend goes through with his insomnia…he must have a strong steroid like I do. (Qvar?). I’m glad I’m not crazy! :rolleyes:

Thank you for your encouragement, Kevin. And yellowbird, thank you so much for your prayer! I really do appreciate it :slight_smile: I think once my allergist tests me thoroughly, she’ll be able to know which medicines would be more effective for me than Advair is, and yes, I hope I never have to go through that experience again. I was thinking “just wait it out, it’ll go away eventually” but the doctors said that it was good I came in when I did. So that part scared me…thank goodness I live at home with two proactive parents.

Thanks, guys :slight_smile:


See a good pulmonologist. After 4 life-threatening asthma attacks in one day (and a previous night sucking on the nebulizer), DH was finally convinced to go to a real doctor.

In 4 months of back-and-forth medication manipulation, she got him entirely off the nebulizer, and he hasn’t had a “real” bout of asthma in 6 years.


glad you feel better, there is nothing scarier than a full-blown asthma attack, hope your doctors will get you on a better treatment and prevention program


Asthma here as well. Glad to hear you’re better. Remember to carry the meds with you. There’s no joking when an asthma attack comes. Listen to your doctor… Maybe try to do some light sports that can actually help your lungs - of course strictly in consultation with your doctor.


Holly - Sorry to hear about all of that. I had asthma from when I was a baby until about age 15. They say I will probably develop it again when I am older :shrug:

One suggestion, if you haven’t already, get tested for allergies to molds and you might want to find out if your work or home has been tested for molds. I know we had an office building in our town a few years ago that was shut down due to mold. You would think they knew, well apparently they had no idea until a lady developed asthma and figured out she kept getting worse when she was at work or at the end of the week. She would start feeling better over the weekend and then it would hit her again. You can’t always smell mold.

Anyway, not medical advice just a suggestion.


Holly, I am glad to hear that they put you on prednisone. It is a great medicine (although the side effects are less than pleasant), I am sure it will hold you over. Remember that allergies exacerbates asthma, so your allergist will be giving you medicines/suggesting treatments which will lower your sensitivity to allergens, and thus avoiding attacks.

I am not sure how long you have been on the Advair 100/50 but remember it is not a fast acting medicine, so you have to be on it for a little while before you see a change. I myself am on 250/50 normally and 500/50 anytime I get sick. So rest assured there are more options and they will find something that works. I definitely agree with mercygate, see a good pulmonologist… they make a world of difference. The one I have currently was the one who responded at the ER when I had my first severe asthma attack.

I’ll be praying for you, and let us know how it goes with the allergist. Get ready for some writing on your back! :wink:



Awesome and thanks, guys, for your suggestions! I’ll go to the allergist, and while I already took a breathing test (that’s how my diagnosis was confirmed) she might still do that as well as skin tests. (the writing on my back, is that what you’re referring to, Kevin? :wink: )

Looking forward to reducing allergies…the funny thing is, I haven’t been severely allergic all my life. My brother had worse allergies. And yet it’s me getting asthma? :rolleyes: I’ll see what meds she prescribes. Hopefully nothing too expensive…And I think I am allergic to mold. I sometimes go to the basement at my summer job, and mold and asbestos galore down there. (Looks clean, but I found out that it has a mild flood occasionally when it rains a lot). I wouldn’t doubt that the library where I work year 'round has mold too, although, as a public library, it’s just plain dirty all the time. And the books are kinda dusty, too.

(That’s the other thing I’m worried about. I’ve spent 6+ years working/volunteering in a library by age 20. I plan to get a library science masters. But if books set my allergies and asthma off NOW of all times…it will be a huge change from my plans I’d planned for a long time. I was really frustrated this morning, thinking about that possibility.)

I’ll ask my allergist about seeing a pulmonologist…basically, I’m treating my Weds appt as a springboard into the whole treatment thing. Thanks for the tip, though! I seriously hadn’t thought of that at all, until y’all suggested it.

And ayup, I carry around albuterol with me at all times. Will need to refill it after only about 4 weeks, but hey, it helps most of the time. Singulair made my asthma so much worse, so I stopped that–my GP was just testing things out before I decided I needed a specialist. I’ve been taking 100/50 for maybe 40 days now…just started my second discus last week. It helps, but I think it could be helping more now. And yes, that makes me feel much better, Kevin, that there are still options. I really do appreciate all your guys’ help.

(And on prednisone, you’re right, got plenty of side effects…For one, sleep is not coming! But it is helping me breathe more easily now. Wait, I’m yawning, finally…time for bed before my body changes its’ mind :wink: )

I definitely will update you all. Thank you for your help and prayers :slight_smile:


Okay update…went to a good allergist this afternoon. Turns out I don’t have asthma, I just have a condition that mimics asthma. At least, that’s what she’s saying right now. I’ll go in for a check up in about 4-6 weeks, and see how I am doing. So that’s the good news!

The bad news is what I’m beating myself up over–anxiety and stress. What it started out as was a cold. It was some sort of viral infection that did something, so now I have “post bronchial infection cough” or something like that. Still! Since February!

And what makes me beat myself up still is that, as the allergist says, it’s the anxiety and stress (that my mom says I so often internalize) that causes me to be in distress, and it manifested itself in this lung problem. I apparently have been getting enough air in my attacks, which makes it not asthma. It was just the whole escalating anxiety thing that made me cough and cough, and coughing made me more anxious, and so I basically hyperventilate, then. I guess that was what was going on, and I guess it makes sense. It just makes me really angry at myself now. Anxiety! Sheesh–what a stupid thing! Must have made my lungs super reactive, instead of allergy-reactive…so the cigarette smoke wasn’t necessarily setting off the allergy side of it, it was my body saying, Rest!

I just am mad at myself. Perhaps more stressed and anxious now. I’m glad it’s not asthma. But I almost prefer asthma over such a stupid thing as anxiety and stress.

However, it all makes sense. These same things are what caused my migraines (atypical basilar…no headache, just immense dizziness). I had bad chest pains maybe two years ago, and it had no apparent cause. I was healthy. But I guess that was probably caused by anxiety and stress too. Perhaps that’s what causes my knees to hurt…they’re healthy. I’ve had them checked out. Doctor thought it might be mild tendonitis, but it probably is a product of stress and anxiety as well. Heck, my ahem horomonal issues probably stem from this very thing, too! So many complaints, and all it boils down to is these stupid things. “Stress and anxiety”

(Though I certainly didn’t realize the whole stress/anxiety part. I’m almost of the sort to not notice my stress until somebody tells me I am. My boyfriend has been amazing at helping me with making me understand the need to relax.)

I apologize for the misdiagnosis. I hate the feeling of believing one thing, and then finding out it something else entirely, that you never noticed before. Especially when it’s something I should have known or noticed, and should have dealt with a long time ago. I should have noticed stress coming on. I shouldn’t have let it affect me, and I thought I was doing a good job of not letting it affect me. But I guess that’s the internalization part coming in.

It seems to all finally fit together–everything. And boy, do I feel incredibly stupid now.

Thanks for your guys’ prayers, anyway, even as it turned out to be something as stupid as this.


Don’t feel stupid, everything pointed to asthma. And that’s what the Dr’s are for, to determine these things.

I’d check into some biofeedback training, which a lot of community coleges and even health plans offer, it can train you to ‘know your body’ more easily so you can recognize the stress levels and anxiety. I did this after learning about my Rheumatoid Arthritis and it’s helped A LOT, now that I can read my body, I settle down and don’t overdo my joints like I did before going ‘hell on wheels all the time’. Therefore I don’t get in over my head and take a week to feel better - like I did before learning to read myself.


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