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Fears surrounding asthma, are they unfounded or not

Hello, I was just looking for advice/opinions really.

I am in my 30’s (female) and haven’t been diagnosed with asthma however for a while have been concerned about this suddenly showing up (taking me by surprise and causing difficult breathing). I do sometimes have anxiety and over the past year have had symptoms of feeling like I don’t have enough air.

Although this fear may seem odd on the surface it is because I seem to have every risk factor under the sun for developing asthma

Following risk factors include:

I developed chronic rhinosinitis with polyps when I was 23 (managed with nasal steroids) and I have only recently realised that up to 70% of people with this have or will develop asthma. After reading more on this I read that blood eosinophil counts over 250 and being female are indicators for those who go on to develop asthma. My eosinophil count has been 500 for years since I developed this sinus condition.

My dad suddenly developed adult onset asthma when he was 40, apparantly it started with him being very breathless on a holiday and since then he has been coughing for years, he also has nasal polyps.

I have done a lot of running in the past and during a race once a stranger asked if I have asthma as they heard me wheezing - though this could be my sinuses.

Due to my condition I have to blow my nose a lot and a nurse at work asked if I also have asthma and said that il need to be careful as I have a sensitivity. This made me worry even more lol.

In addition to this my peak flow has always been on the low side - 330 personal best (I tested with a salbutamol inhaler once it went up to 360). I have tested peak flow after exercise - no change other than a slight increase if anything.

Given the above concerns my gp let me have a spirometry test which was normal. I was trialled on a steroid inhaler for 4 weeks there was no change in peak flow.

I have had allergy tests they are always negative.

I guess due to the above and my anxiety I feel very apprehensive about suddenly finding myself in an asthma attack. I tell myself not to worry unless it happens but the fear sort of hangs over me

I am wondering firstly how much of my fears are unfounded and how much are grounded in reality. Also is there anything I can do to sort of manage this/gain more control. I don’t know if carrying a ventolin inhaler ‘just in case’ would be over the top or not.

  1. Hello - and welcome to our site. I understand your hesitancy and concern about asthma and breathlessness. We unfortunately cannot give advice as we are not physicians. But we can offer up some of our experiences to possibly help those struggling.

    Asthma can have a hereditary or genetic component, which means it can run in families. If you have a family history of asthma, you may have a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. However, the genetics of asthma are complex, and it's not solely determined by a single gene. Instead, it appears to be influenced by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Here's a link to the different types of asthma that exist .

    While waiting for others to chime in and introduce themselves and offer their view, I wanted to leave a few links to articles that may be important and assist you until then. What occurred to me when reading your post was firstly anxiety and asthma - there is a thing such as anxiety-induced asthma.

    Your anxiety and fear may possibly be affecting your breathing. The only way to know is to discuss it with your physician.

    Another thing that stood out reading your post is that of activity-induced asthma - you stated that while running someone noticed the wheeze in your lungs. I have activity-induced asthma and know of the symptoms and/or distress it causes. Here is a link to read up on this as well.

    Thirdly - the mention of your chronic rhinosinusitis with polyps could be another factor affecting the possibility you have or can develop asthma. Upper respiratory infections and sinus difficulties can also trigger asthma. Have you seen an ENT/Allergist who can offer their insight into your symptoms? Here are 2 links that may help you understand the connection.

    Until others sign on and check on your post, I hope you get the chance to read up on these topics. Wishing you all the knowledge and support you seek. Warmly - Rebecca (community moderator)

    1. Thanks so much Rebecca, yes that is my concern in summary - that the risk factors I mentioned will lead to asthma. It sounds odd but if I’m going to get it I’d rather it just start as it’s the anticipation causing more worry/feeling the anxiety.

      I am under ENT for the CRSwNP (rhinitis) there is mucosal thickening on my ct scan but I was advised to continue with nasal steroids.

      I will have a look at those links thanks!

      1. Hi. Welcome. To be honest, none of us, not even your doctor, would be able to say definitively if you'd eventually develop asthma. While you do have a lot of risk factors pointing toward asthma, there's no guarantee it'll appear. You may be surprised.

        That said, your wheezing is something that should be addressed, no matter what the root cause is. I think you're doing all the right things -- arming yourself with information and support and working with your care team. You may want to talk to your doctor about whether occasional lung function and blood tests are worth it in your situation.

        Please keep us posted and ask as many questions as you'd like! Try to take things one day at a time -- you're not alone. -Melissa, team

    2. Thanks Melissa, I have asked doctors about an estimated risk but they say that it’s hard to put a percentage on it. My family say that most people are at risk of asthma in one way or another due to having allergies or family history but it seems to be CRSwNP which all the websites list as being ‘strongly associated with asthma’.

      I was told by my gp that normal spirometry and tests don’t rule out asthma so I guess there’s no single test

      1. Found another article to help regarding testing for asthma, which you've mentioned above - I wish you well. Rebecca (community moderator)

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