Friday, March 06, 2009

Asthma Post

I need a asthma mentor. It seems easy to figure out what to do, but it isn't really. I probably over think it.

I've noticed that I literally forget what it is like to breathe normally. What I mean is that there are times when I wonder whether I am having trouble breathing because I am thinking about it, or if I am distracted by my breathing because it is just a little bit difficult to breathe. So I bought an Peak Flow Meter. It's this plastic thing you blow into and it gives you a reading. It was supposed to help. I could get an objective measurement that would tell me "not to worry." The way it works is that you use it until you figure out what your peak number is. Then you turn the little dial thing so that you move the top of the green zone to you peak. Now when you blow in the little red dot will land in either green, yellow, or red. If it is green, you're fine. Don't worry.

Okay, so last night I cleaned carpets after the electricians left. I vaccuumed really carefully and then I got on the ground with the carpet spot cleaner and took care of some spots that had been there a long time. I may have breathed in a fair amount of plaster dust or pet dander. I don't know.

I do know that afterwards I felt bad. I was coughing. I used the meter. I could get it to go into the green zone, but blowing that hard produced a coughing fit. I used the rescue inhaler. It was an old one and I wasn't sure if it really had enough medication in it, so I asked Roland to pick up the new one waiting for me at the pharmacy. He got home about two hours later and I used it. I went to bed tired. I wasn't coughing much, and not at all if I was still.

I woke up tired and coughing some. I thought about staying home with my asthma and the alergens, but work seemed to be a better plan. I used the rescue inhaler.

I came to work, coughed while talking to a student, and went to class. I was okay, although I did cough some. My voice sounded like I was getting laryngitis. By the end of class though I was better. I did cough when I took an experimental deep breath, and I felt just a tiny bit breathless, but it was that "do I feel that way because I'm thinking about it?" level.

I came back to my office determined to treat again (2.5 hours later) and decided to use the peak flow meter first. My reading was excellent (as high as ever) and getting it made me cough for a while.

So what the heck does that mean? Do I take another hit of the medicine, or do I distract myself and stop thinking about whether my breathing is normal?

I think I need to call the doctor and set up an appointment to talk about managing my asthma...although maybe I need to make an appointment with an asthma educator. There are such people aren't there? I know they exist for diabetics.

Anyone out there got any helpful information? Advice? Thoughts?


  1. My kids have asthma, and after years of this same kind of worry we found a wonderful doctor who specialized in pediatric pulmonology. He sent up home with an entire chart detailing exactly what do under any circumstance.

    I would insist upon some detailed information when you call...surely there are guidelines that they go by.

  2. My vote is go see the doctor.

  3. Doctor! My daughter has asthma and so it is hard for me to judge what is what. Her answer is always "I don't know" when I ask questions. The doctor gave us a plan with step by step instructions on what to do down to the minute, including symptoms. IMHO it doesn't sound like this is happening because you are thinking about it more.

  4. Linda wrote, "IMHO it doesn't sound like this is happening because you are thinking about it more."

    Do you mean my thinking about it is the evidence of the cause for this not happening?

  5. And now, we return to our normal programming? ;-)

  6. Okay - sorry - there WAS a huge commercial just above my comment. I thought I was being funny, but now it just looks silly. Oh well.

  7. Well, I still think it was funny. You probably posted just as I was deleting the ad.

  8. The real question is: when you determined your peak, did you have to cough to do it?

    Not trying to really get your mind in a twist, but is it possible you're trying harder to hit peak when you're having problems in order to prove that it's not just all in your head?

    Also, do you have a HEPA filter? It really helps, plus you don't have to dust as much because the filter sucks so much of it out of the atmosphere. I like this one. The husband did his shopping and was very excited about it because the filters are washable (for a while anyway) and cheap when you have to switch them out. It has done wonders for my asthma.

  9. Caveat: I don't know your history at ALL, but my story might be instructive.

    I was treated for several years for adult-onset, "cough variant". I had the whole plan of attack laid out like other commenters have described. I did Advair 500 2X a day if I was using my rescue inhaler at all, and was allowed to scale back to 1X a day once that settled down, and could even go off it completely if I was symptom free for 2 weeks or more (which never happened). At the first sign of any URI symptoms, I was to go back to 2X a day. Flare-ups where I was using rescue a lot despite the 2X-a-day Advair would earn me a 5-day course of prednisone.

    Then last summer I was having a "flare-up," and was given a round of prednisone. When it didn't help, they finally did peak flow measures on me, which were totally normal despite me coughing my head off. And someone said Hmmm... no response to prednisone and moving air just fine... maybe it's not asthma? They started treating me for GERD (atypical GERD since I rarely got heartburn)and gave me a cough suppressant for night-time. Within 2 weeks the cough was gone. I take prilosec every morning and pepcid as needed, and I'm like a new person. This winter I even had a cold that didn't result in an out-of-control cough, unlike every cold for the past 10+ years.

    Asthma and GERD co-occur so it may be worth checking into!

  10. Wear a mask if you are going to be anywhere where dust is getting kicked up. They sell them in the home improvement section. Wearing it outside if you have outdoor allergies helps. If you are around allergens, even wearing a mask, shower and wash your hair before you go to bed. The allergens in your hair will get on your pillow and make your reaction worse. Benedryl is your best friend at night with allergies. Take care of yourself, breathing is pretty important!

  11. Anonymous11:31 PM

    By regular exercise of Yogasana and Pranayama the constriction of the bronchial tubes gets very much reduced. Slowly the capacity of bronchial tubes increases to a great extent.


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