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I agree with Titchou.

I have had severe allergies and had lots of luck with antihistamines. I often need other support when the allergies are bad, but without them I notice a major difference.

You need to take a two prong approach: treat for the here and now & treat for the future.

You absolutely need to be tested for your allergies. A skin test for your environmental allergies. Immunotherapy has worked wonders for me.

Find a Pulmonologist who comes highly recommended also. There are some doctors who run allergy/asthma clinics. I know there are some really good docs who specialize in both, but I haven't had a lot of luck with the ones in my area so I see one specialist for my asthma and another for my allergies. I make sure that I provide any tests/reports that I have at one to to the other and send results from both of those to my PCP in an attempt to coordinate my own care.

There is a new medication (shots) for allergic asthma called Xolair. It's not covered by all insurances yet though. They will require you to have IgE testing and lung functioning prior to recommending this route. It is extremely expensive though (about $10,000/year) so it may not even be something to consider at this point. I finally got a foundation grant to cover the cost of the medication for a year, but haven't been able to convince insurance to help cover the cost of the actual shot administration. How frustrating. It has taken since January to get this far.

Other things to consider:

*What dosage of Advair are you on? There is Advair 100/50, 250/50 and 500/50. I've had to go to higher dosages when things flare and then back down lower when I'm in maintainence.

*Are you on PPI's for reflux? LPR reflux can result in flared asthma even when you don't feel other symptoms. This happened to me. It took the longest time to realize how bad my reflux was and how it was influencing my asthma.

*If you are using your inhaler 0-2 times per day, but using it most days, it sounds like your asthma is not under control. It also sounds like it could be worse. With bad flares, I'm using it about 4 times per day. This may be why your doctor hasn't taken you as seriously in terms of its severity. It also seems to me that often by the time I get an actual appointment with the doctor I'm never at my worst. Therefore, the doc doesn't hear my lungs when I'm really having problems. This last winter it took me 4 months of calling and begging to get in to see my pulmonologist. (He is really good, but I called the other pulmonologists in my area and they were booked out just as far also so I waited for him. ) Anyway, I had a horrible flare from November to mid-February but was much better by the time I had the appointment with my specialist at the end of February. I'm not sure I convinced him of the severity of what I was going through. I finally had lung function testing in April. My asthma was fine by then. The tests are scheduled out so far that I've never had lung function testing when I'm actually having a flare.

*There are other allergy and asthma treatments that you can try. There are other non-drowzy antihistamines out there. I'd ask your doctor about that. Could be you need a decongestant for a while also until things get under control. I've found success with nasal antihistamines and nasal steroids as well. Singulair takes a different approach to treating your asthma & allergies. I take it in addition to my Advair and antihistamines. I haven't had much success with it by itself, but do find it helps when added in addition to the other meds. (Take it at night for best results in helping asthma.) Ask about getting a home nebulizer to administer your Albuterol while things are bad. I found that using it in the morning and before bed and using my inhaler during my work day helped some.

Allergies are at their worst this year. The weather reports have said we had a "perfect storm" for pollens to grow this year. Some other things you can do to help with the allergies: use a neti pot to clear your nasal passages regularly, shower when you get home or before bed to remove pollens from your hair and body, change clothes before entering your bedroom so you don't carry pollens in, use saline nasal solutions. If you know what pollens you are allergic to, do some internet research. There are certain foods you should avoid with relation to certain foods because they can also aggrevate your allergies even if you aren't allergic to the food.

If you do see a Pulmonologist, they may want to have you tested for a sleep disorder. This is something I've had several doctors question even though I have never snored. It seems to be something they like to rule out though.
Well, today has both good news and bad news.

The good news is that my allergist's office is amazing. I called this morning and said I was still having a lot of chest symptoms and wanted to increase my meds. I also said my voicemail was private, in case I missed the return call.

As it happened, I did miss the call, but it was ok. They called in a script for the Advair 250 and I have the stuff right now.

Given past experience with calling doctor's offices, this is a miracle. I totally lucked out with my choice of allergist.

Bad news is, I tried an extra Zyrtec last night and then another one this morning, and it made me drowsy to the point I was having trouble carrying on a normal conversation. Worse, the Zyrtec is apparently irritating my stomach, too. And given that I have acid reflux and erosive gastritis, irritating my stomach is dangerous.

(I have fibromyalgia that I have to manage with topical pain treatments and a little Pamelor only, that's how drug-sensitive my stomach is these days. And it wasn't any easier when I was on prilosec, not once I'd become dependent, anyway.)

So, benadryl has bad side effects, zyrtec has bad side effects, claritin does nothing. Grrr.

The biggest time I'm bothered by asthma is at work, and today I did try taking the albuterol right before starting the demanding part of my job, instead of waiting until it became absolutely necessary. It seemed to work better. I am getting better at figuring out when I really need the inhaler and when I should wait and see.

Titchou, the stories I could tell about family doctors and allergies... That's why I got used to handling my skin allergies without bothering a doctor, because I knew so much more than they did and got tired of arguing with them about why ANTIBIOTICS were completely inappropriate for someone with an allergic rash and a history of multiple antibiotic allergies. I suppose I could have tried a specialist, but I was never able to get an appointment in a timely manner when I was having a problem. All I really want from a GP is for her to accept what I tell her about my conditions and not try to mess up treatment that's working.

MountainReader, you're no doubt right. I'm just tired of dealing with this. It seems like I'm at the doctor or in the drugstore every single day. Went to the drugstore today to pick up my script and I was all, "Hi, it's me again! I just love you guys that much!"

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