"I was diagnosed with asthma in my 50s"

Vicki Shenton on being diagnosed with late-onset asthma in her 50s.

"I was quite sickly as a child and had lots of throat infections and colds. Some people have asked if I think I had undiagnosed asthma in childhood, but I don't think I did. My aunt had pretty severe asthma, so I'm sure my mother would have recognised symptoms if I'd had any. I didn't have chest problems until I was 55."

An unexpected diagnosis

"About five years ago on a late summer's day, I was helping one of my daughters pack a suitcase when I suddenly started to wheeze. It came on completely out of the blue. I didn't know what was happening until my daughter said, 'Mum, I think you're having an asthma attack'. She has asthma and luckily had her reliever inhaler with her. I had a couple of puffs and it relieved the symptoms straight away."

"I made an appointment with my GP the following day and she diagnosed late onset asthma. I was given two inhalers a preventer and a reliever. It was a shock to be diagnosed with a chronic condition, especially one I'd only ever associated with children and young adults."

Getting support

"Thankfully I haven't been hospitalised, but my asthma symptoms are getting worse and I'm taking a lot of medication. Stress has recently become a trigger for me, as well as cold weather. I have an asthma review with my GP practice every six months and have also been referred to the asthma team at the hospital to consider my treatment options."

Managing symptoms

"I know that exercise, when I'm well enough, really helps I do aerobics, go cycling, walk a lot, go to yoga classes. I also sing in a choir. I try and eat well. I avoid going out in the evenings if the weather is cold unless my journey is essential. Right from the time I was diagnosed, I've taken my peak flow three times a day to help me manage my medication. This helps me track how well I'm doing.

"I like to think that I'm managing my symptoms with the support of my GP, rather than expecting them to manage my symptoms for me. I don't want to be labelled by my condition.

"I never say I'm asthmatic. I say I have asthma. I see that as a big difference. I'm living with asthma, I don't suffer from it."

Last updated August 2015