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Terrifying Asthma Attacks

Many of our community members can recall one (or even a few) terrifying asthma attacks. Have you had a severe or terrifying attack? Share your experience below for others to read!

  1. I had had a couple of bad breathing months, but my doctor couldn't locate the problem. I had started using an nebulizer and my energy level was very low. The evening of January 4, 2002, was a very cold one where I was living. Around 4:00 a.m. I woke up and couldn't breathe at all. Tried to get to my car to drive to an emergency room, but didn't have the strength to open the car door. I felt myself passing out and called out to my roommate, who uncharacteristically was there that night. She called 911. I made it back to the house and waited for the ambulance while sitting down with my head down so I could try to catch a breath. Fire trucks and an ambulance arrived; I was taken to the nearest hospital and spent 5 days there getting my oxygen levels back up to normal. I was diagnosed with an unnamed pulmonary virus. The new drug at that time was guaifenesin, now found in Mucinex. It was like a miracle! Really responded well to it and didn't have to use a nebulizer when I returned home after 5 days.

    1. Hi Leon,

      Thanks for reading my story. I'm doing fine now. Doctors never did identify the virus. I still take Mucinex, especially when my allergies act up and it's still a lifesaver! I'm not using the nebulizer at this time. At the time of the asthma attack I was taking Advair, which I hated. I'm now on Symbicort and feel it does a much better job, but that's just me. People react differently to medication and what's good for me might not work for someone else. This incident taught me that things can go south very quickly and to pay attention to your body. I hope someone can learn from my experience.

    2. Hi again, , and thank YOU for your reply and explanation You do make a good point - the same as asthma affects everyone differently, so, too, can treatment and medication vary from patient to patient.

      It does sound like you have this condition under good control Keep up the good work!

      Perhaps, as you said, others will read of your experience, and find something that may help them to manage the condition as well.

      We value your feedback and your input.

      Warmly,
      Leon (site moderator asthma.net)

  2. We were in Germany visiting the Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum in Rüdesheim when I had my worst asthma attack ever. The building's origin is set to be around 1292. During our tour, I started wheezing and feeling a lot of discomfort in my lungs. Making noise, people in the tour group turned to look at me. I smiled, showed my inhaler to let folks know all was well and used it. It became clear to me that things were escalating quickly, so I used it again. Things continued to get worse. Coughing, gasping, wheezing... totally out of control. I was getting dizzy and started to panic a bit. I used the inhaler one more time before full on panic set in. I was making a scene in my attempts to stop coughing, wheezing and was now gasping for air. I tried to leave, but the door was locked behind and in front of us. I motioned to the tour guide, but she was in full display mode. Finally, I went to a window and started pulling on it. The distraction was too much and the tour guide finally unlocked the door to let me out. I flew outside and sat on the concrete finally feeling air coming back into my lungs. Quite dizzy and weak, I just sat there for an extended amount of time. Finally my lungs relaxed and I could breath normally again. Terribly frightening that the emergency inhaler didn't work in an emergency. All I can figure is that the museum might have had extensive dust or other chemical (ancient deteriorating paint?). Anyway, I was fine after getting out of the building. Never had an attack like that again (thank goodness!!)

    1. Hi - thanks so much for sharing your terrifying asthma episode here with the community. That indeed does sounds like a harrowing experience.

      I would tend to agree with your thought - there must have been something inside the museum building that triggered this serious and frightening attack. So glad that you were able to get past it once you were able to get outside.

      What is even better is that this hasn't recurred for you.

      We appreciate your candor in sharing this challenging situation for you.

      Wishing you well,
      Leon (site moderator asthma.net)

  3. Hi all, I read the previous posts with empathy and would like to add my quick story so as to emphasise how incredibly quickly an asthma attack can come on. We have been going through one of the hottest summers for decades this year and I live on the coast so the humidity has been up in the 80 and 90% most days. A few weeks ago was a bit late for my morning half hour spin class at our local gym. I had used my maintenance med earlier but didnt have time to warm up and also used my bronchodilator inhaler too late before starting the class. I made it through the class with a bit of coughing and my chest feeling a bit tight and used my inhaler a couple more times and afterwards just sat quietly for about 15 mins in the coolness of the A/C at the gym. The heat was scorching when I left, got into my car which was also very hot from being parked in the sun to drive into town to pick up a couple of supplies before heading home, a distance of about 2 km. In that short space of time about 5 mins, I went from fairly comfortable to gasping for breath, my chest heaving and started to panic a bit even while knowing I must try and remain calm and breath slowly. Thankfully my doctors rooms are in the same street so I parked, and went straight in where I was put on oxygen for about 20 mins and given some emergency meds. The moral of my story is do not take short cuts with using your meds and do not under estimate the effect of the natural or manmade environment you are in, because even when you know your triggers, there might just be another factor or combination of factors which may set off an asthma attack very very quickly.


    1. Hi jules123, and thanks for lending your support and encouragement here. We also value you sharing your own personal experience managing this condition with the community. You make valid points about not taking one's asthma condition for granted. Even when it is seemingly under good control. we always should be ready for whatever may be coming down the road!
      This must have been very frightening for you at the time. Fortunately, your doctor's office was so nearby so you could get this under better control before it became any worse.
      Reading about your experience is a good lesson for all of us.
      Warmly.
      Leon (site moderator asthma.net)

    2. So glad you're OK, jules! It was fortunate that your doctor's office was nearby and that they were able to give you treatment immediately. I was a bit concerned at the thought of you driving when you are struggling to breathe, mostly for your own safety ... do you have a way to call for help if this should happen in the future? Hoping all the best for you and that you enjoy your future spin classes! -Melissa, asthma.net team

  4. Thank you for your replies Leon and Mellisa, to answer your question Mellisa, i have my cell phone on me all the time to call for help if need be. I also live in a small town where I know a lot of people and in the event of not being able to drive, I can nearly always find someone to make a call or take me to the doctor. i am also surprised and encouraged to find how even most strangers, even those who dont know much about asthma, are very willing to help if given some direction.


    1. Hi again, jules123, and thanks for responding here. You do sound like you are on top of this condition and are prepared for seemingly anything that may come your way. Having the type of support from your community neighbors must be very reassuring for you. We do appreciate both your input and feedback. Keep up the good work!
      Be well,
      Leon (site moderator asthma.net)

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