Experiencing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest and feeling breathless can be frightening.
What should you do, if you experience these symptoms?
What happens next?
- It is important to contact your GP or asthma nurse to discuss if you need to be assessed for a respiratory condition such as asthma
- Asthma can be dangerous if left untreated, so it's important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.
- Your clinician will talk to you about your symptoms. Important information includes if anything triggers these symptoms
- They are likely to want to know about any family history of asthma or other allergies such as hay fever
- They will listen to your chest for any sounds of wheezing
- They may consider prescribing asthma treatments to see if they make a difference.
Alongside a clinical assessment by your GP or respiratory nurse, you’ll need some asthma tests to confirm or rule out asthma. Your GP can see how your lungs are working with tests like peak flow, spirometry, and FeNO (fractional exhaled nitric oxide).
Your GP can usually perform these tests during the appointment, and you can see the results straightaway. But you may need to do tests again on another day before your GP can confirm you have asthma.
You may be given a peak flow meter to use at home for a couple of weeks. This is so you can record your own peak flow scores in a diary.
When you take it back to your appointment, your GP or asthma nurse will be able to see a pattern of scores that could suggest asthma.
Further information is available via the Asthma UK website - Diagnosing asthma in adults
After your asthma diagnosis
The good news is there are lots of effective medicines available to help manage your symptoms. With the right treatment plan and good support from your GP you could stay symptom free.
Here are some things you can do straight away to get off to a good start:
1. Use an asthma action plan
An asthma action plan is a simple tool to help you manage your asthma well. You fill it in with your GP or asthma nurse. It tells you exactly how to manage your asthma every day and what to do if symptoms get worse. Evidence suggests that using one means you’re less likely to end up in hospital with an asthma attack. Once you've got your own personalised asthma action plan, take it along to all your appointments to make sure it’s always up to date.
2. Using inhalers
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of asthma, it is important that you learn to use your inhalers correctly. Asthma UK has a number of educational videos showing the correct technique for your specific inhaler. Click here to watch the inhaler technique videos.
Many thanks to Asthma UK for the comprehensive information and resources that we have featured on this page. For more detail, information and advice please go to www.asthma.org.uk