Asthma is a long-term condition. This means that it usually doesn’t go away, but using the correct medication can control symptoms very effectively. Sometimes children with asthma can “grow out of it” but this is not always the case. In others there may be significant periods of time when they are symptom free, especially if the asthma is well managed.
Jan’s childhood asthma improved when she was a teenager and she thought maybe she was growing out of it, but a few years later symptoms reappeared. Over time she says some of her triggers have changed
Faisil describes how his asthma symptoms have come and gone at different times of his life.
Others also described the way their symptoms had changed over time. For some people, using the correct medication regularly meant that they now no longer, or rarely, experienced symptoms. Dee is frightened of having another serious asthma attack. So tries hard to keep her asthma well controlled. She said she can go for years now without needing to use her reliever inhaler and sometimes she forgets she has asthma.
Some people noticed that their asthma improved for periods of time, but they had occasionally had flare ups, for example when they got a cold or chest infection or if they came into contact with known triggers, such as pollen. Sometimes people may discover a new trigger or react to something that has not bothered them before. Eve said it can sometimes “catch you out”.
Eve can go for several months without her asthma bothering her and then she may get several flare up’s’ especially if she gets a cold or chest infection. [AUDIO ONLY]
Margaret feels well most of the time but there can be times when she feels her asthma is starting to flare up and over the course of a couple of days it can get steadily worse. Usually she can calm things down by increasing her inhaler dose for a time.
Alastair who has mild asthma said that although the perception of asthma is that of someone not being able to breathe at all, in his case it will gradually worsen to the point of being uncomfortable and when he uses his inhaler it stops it almost immediately. Alastair’s asthma is generally only triggered during the hay fever season.
Charles said, “It’s been probably better since it was originally diagnosed, and I think that’s possibly due to the preventative treatment of Becotide. I very seldom have the need to take Ventolin”.
Usually Peter’s asthma is successfully controlled and there is little impact on his life, but during the course of a year he may get a few weeks when it flares up.
Sometimes people’s asthma had seemed to gradually worsen as they got older. That doesn’t necessarily mean they get symptoms all the time, but that when it does flare up it can be more severe. When Esther was first diagnosed with asthma in her twenties she experienced occasional wheeziness, but she says it got progressively worse over time and began to be triggered more frequently by cold weather or if she exerted herself too much.
Mary has had asthma all her life and it has got progressively worse but she says modern day treatments are much more effective than in the early days.
Jenny explains how her asthma has changed and become worse over time. She has developed severe brittle asthma which has restricted her life considerably, but she says most people don’t experience such extreme symptoms.
Melissa worries that her asthma could get worse in the future but at the moment she is happy that she is managing her symptoms well.
Eve has noticed that her asthma has become worse over the years. [AUDIO ONLY]
Some of the younger people we talked to wondered whether their asthma would become worse as they got older. Nicola asked the asthma nurse but was told it’s difficult to predict; she has decided to take things as they come and not worry too much about it. Similarly Tomas feels it’s best to concentrate on managing it as it is now and not to think about what may happen in the future.
Nicola asked the nurse what the outlook for the future might be but was told it’s difficult to predict. You have to deal with it and if it gets worse theres nothing I can do about it so. Theres probably no point in worrying about it.
Even when people have a good understanding of how to change the dose of their medication or how often they take it, they may still need to revisit the GP or nurse to have their medication reviewed or fine-tuned. After a time of using an inhaler that has worked well symptoms sometimes start to reappear, suggesting it might be time to change medication.
Susan manages her asthma well generally but there have been times where she has had flu or a bad chest infection and she has had to make several visits to see the GP or nurse in order to get things back under control. [AUDIO ONLY]
Melissa found that after a time her inhalers weren’t working so well. The GP prescribed different ones which controlled her asthma more effectively.
A personal action plan helps people to vary their medication within agreed limits to gain better control when symptoms return. Some people find that they can manage changes just by using a plan that they have discussed in advance with the GP or asthma nurse. An ‘asthma plan’ is intended to help people to know what to do to manage their condition, and when they should seek further help.