Shortness of breath and inhaler difficulties

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Hi.  I am not sure how to start, but I since suffering shortness of breath I've been given an inhaler Salamol.  Bit of background 3 years ex smoker, last year during a pre op test was told to visit GP as my stats are low.  GP not concerned, maybe 'bit of' polycytheamia! Had chest xray and lung function test which I was told were acceptable for my age.  Then for last few months became short of breath on mild exertion - stairs indoors, vacuuming, lifting etc and also wheezing.  Back to GP who told me we do get breathless as we get older !  So I made an appt with  practice nurse and she gave me an inhaler.

From that it's clear I don't know what the cause is, but also I find it really hard to take enough breath for the inhaler, and wanted to know if this is common?  I'm worse first thing, and with any exertion. I seem to get trembly and with palpitations when short of breath though I'm not anxious, just baffled. No cough, no apparent chest infection and I've never suffered bronchitis.

Would appreciate any guidance on possible cause and also re: inhaler difficulties.

Thank you.    j

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Apart from the nurse, you dont seem to be getting much support. Many people who dont get good training in using an onhaler fail to get much benefit from it, but fortunately there is a simple solution, which is to use tge inhaler in conjunction with what is called a spacer.

    You should see the nurse again and ask her to prescribe a suitable spacer for you. For a typical push-button type inhaler, one called a volumatic might be best for you. All it means is you just push the inhaler on one end of tge space, and whilst breathing nicely through the other end, press the button and carry on breathing for a few seconds more. The purpose is to liminate the rather careful synchronising of pressing the inhaler buton and breathing in deeply at the same time, all of which some people never quite master

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    • Posted

      Thank you for replying gbhall.  I was given a spacer with the inhaler, but because of the valve on the spacer it seems to require a deeper breath than I can manage.  Maybe I'm not doing it properly I have only had it a couple of days.

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  • Posted

    Its unclear if you actually have a diagnosis of COPD?  

    Shortness of breath can be caused by any number of things which should be checked out by your GP

    Unsure what your pre op test was for or if it was related to polycytheamia and if shortness of breath is related to polycytheamia.

    In COPD shortness of breath is part of every day life for many people.  If you do have a diagnosis of COPD salamol inhaler may not be enough.

    You could go back to your doctor and ask to be checked for COPD at the same time you could explain the symptoms you are experiencing as you have here, you could also ask for a spacer to use with Salamol inhaler, this will help you get the medicine deeper into your lungs.

    Exhale completely before inhaling the medicine and also read the instruction leaflets perscribed with you medicine and that which comes with your spacer should you be prescribed one or something similar.

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    • Posted

      Vee I haven't a diagnosis of anything.  The pre op was for an unconnected surgery but just flagged up my hgb reading and low stats and I was told to see a GP about those.  (All went well on that surgery.)

      I did see my GP about hgb and low stats though, and then had a chest xray and lung function test which were deemed to be acceptable and I wasn't really suffering shortness of breath then (just last summer.)

      I almost feel I am making a fuss at GP, but this breathing problem has been affecting my daily life for 4/5 months now and at times is a bit frightening actually but I don't know the cause.  Feel a bit lost really.

      I was wondering if it was asthma but just a guess.

       

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    • Posted

      As I said above Jessie, you need to go to your doctor to explain the symptoms you are experiencing and the cause of shortness of breathe should be investigated further.  Other illnesses affect the respiratory systems, that is why its important to find out the cause.

       

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    • Posted

        Thank you. I do appreciate your replies Vee2.  I shall do as you suggest.
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    • Posted

      I have come across many posts where people declare that ventolin inhalers suit very much better than salamol, despite in theory they are the same drug and give the same dosage. In reality, salamol is a cheap generic, the propellant is different, it contains ethanol which upsets some people, the salamol appears to clog up and become ineffective in a short time. Those are the main complaints, so people feel they are being fobbed off, you can feel justified in insisting upon at the very least trying the 'proper' product, to check for yourself.

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  • Posted

    Hi Jessie!!  Wow....sounds like my initial experience.  One Nurse Practitioner, one Doctor and one Tech that gave me a spirometry test wihen I was having EXACTLY the same symptoms!  I was sent home with "oh, it's probably asthma".  4 years later, with my new current Doctor, who sent me for a CT scan, I was diagnosed with COPD.  If you are just being sent home with meds without further testing....PLEASE get a pulmonary doctor to check you out.  I feel 4 years of my life was wasted due to a wrong diagnosis and doctors that were not thorough.

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    • Posted

      Appreciate your reply sandy and good to know I;m not alone !  Are you in the UK ? Only it seems to me that here in the UK doctors in general practice think first of the cost of ordering specialist testing. Mine even suggested my symptoms could be a thyroid disorder... but said scans for that were expensive!  I would be happy if I can use the inhaler properly as that will help I expect, must practise with that..  
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    • Posted

      Jessie, I live in Lakewood, Colorado USA.  My WONDERFUL General Practioner said to me "I find it hard to believe that all of a sudden at age 69, you developed asthma, but we are going to find out what is going on".  He is SO pro-active and truly concerned about his patients.  I went directly from his office (hooked up to oxygen) for a CT scan which his office ordered.  Then he instructed the radiologist to keep me there and call him with the results.  After he spoke with the radiologist, my GP asked to talk to me, so I immediately knew what my diagnosis was. Therefore.....the diagnosis and treatment was all completed within about 3 hours in the same day!!!  I just cannot say enough good about my doctors.  I have a fabulous Pulmonary Specialist also.  I feel that I could not be in better hands.

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  • Posted

    first off, buy a pulseox (shouldn't cost more than 25.oo or so) and see what your oxygen level is and go from there. oxygen level about 95 is safe and level at 90, you should see a pulmologist. you don't say what your fev1 level was on your spirometry test, nor did you give your age.

    best of luck, Gene McD

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