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When I was a toddler, what was diagnosed as asthma reared its ugly head. We lived in Miami at the time, and the weather just made my symptoms worse. After a dozen or so hospitalizations, my Mom had had it, and we all moved North. I was totally fine after that...for several years. I had been cured, my mother was told. Then when I hit puberty, I started to develop pet and seasonal allergies, and exhibited other symptoms, like shortness of breath. Fits of laughter would lead to incessant productive coughing. The slightest cold would lead to chest tightness, long periods of coughing, and just dizziness from trying to get a full breath. I would get worse in the fall and the winter, and worst of all at night. I was told this was due to mold allergies, and that it was asthma. Again. My spring allergies to pollen just make me sneeze and get itchy eyes, so this is just a cold weather thing for me. The spring allergies are annoying, but I can deal. It's the respiratory stuff that's bothering me the most. This has basically continued...and then things started to get really bad a few years ago. All of a sudden, I started getting eczema. I'm thinking that this was a sign, because it seemed all of my other symptoms stepped up a notch. Oddly enough, when my breathing issues are at their worst, turning on the air conditioner (yes, even in the winter!) REALLY helps.

SO, I went to an allergist/immunologist a few years ago, and was immediately "diagnosed" with asthma again. He put me on Advair, a bronchodilator, and Singulair. I guess it helped. Seeing as I only seem to get these symptoms in the fall & winter, I managed okay. Then one day, I had really bad chest tightening, and I admit, I was panicking. It sucks feeling like you're unable to breathe. I went in to see my allergist and he used a peak flow meter, and determined I didn't have asthma after all, and that what I was possibly having was anxiety. He told me to stop all of my medication, and prescribed Xanax. I acknowledged that I was anxious about my inability to get a full breath, and I went on my merry way.

But I'm still getting these symptoms now, and I don't have any medication aside from OTC Primatene Mist, which helps a bit when I'm at my worst. I figure that if it was only anxiety, would I have to feel anxious...or rather, have to have something to be anxious about in order to have it? I mean, I sometimes wake up, feeling completely calm, and having terrible chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. It's been terrible this week, as I'm getting over being sick (since Wednesday last week), and I've coughed so much. As I sit here and write this, I'm having difficulty breathing, and am just exhausted from the effort.

Some things my allergist told me:

*Laughing or coughing would not trigger asthma (I felt like such a dope when I shared my experiences, because he was adamant that these weren't related. But this has always been my experience. Oh, and I'm assuming that if I'm laughing and enjoying myself, then I shouldn't be anxious, but what do I know?).
*That the dizziness and fatigue I was feeling was from hyperventilation. I'm still not sure I know the difference. :\
*That my coughing and chest tightening were due to anxiety

When he told me all of this, after he himself had diagnosed me with asthma at least a year before, and prescribed all of that apparently needless medication, I was just upset. I just want relief. Again, this doesn't happen to me at all in the spring or in the summer. Only in the winter. So apparently, I'm only anxious in the winter?

So I was diagnosed as a toddler, was apparently "cured" when we moved, was re-diagnosed when I hit puberty, that diagnosis was repeated a few years ago when I developed eczema, and then about a year later, it was rescinded. And now here I am, really reluctant to go see a doctor about it, but finding that it's becoming a major obstacle for these two seasons each and every year. Is there such a thing as a reliable/definitive test to diagnose asthma? I mean, I don't care what they want to call it...allergies, whatever. I just want some relief.

Thanks for making it this far!

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