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Just feeling a need for a bit of support right now.

For those of you who know me, I've had asthma for about 8 years now officially. I usually have major triggers in the winter with the cold air and pollution. Occassionally wildfire season in the summer will get to me. I'm more environmentally triggered, but I did start taking Xolair shots a couple months ago for allergic asthma. I'm also a couple years into immunotherapy. I had a really really rough winter last year with a flare that lasted about 4 months. I do have a pretty solid asthma action plan in place and am diligent about following it.

Here is my frustration. I went out of state for about 2 1/2 weeks at the beginning of July. I hit my last leg of my journey with a sinus infection & fever. I got my doc to call in an antibiotic to the nearest pharmacy to where I was staying. I returned home and finished my Augmentin and my sinuses felt better, but I developed a cough. It has gotten much worse over the last week. I get a cough as a symptom for allergies, PND, asthma and sometimes as residual from the sinus infections. Trouble is that I can't always tell the trigger. I hate to take too much asthma medication if it really isn't an asthma flare. Thus, I ended up at my docs again today. He could tell it was asthma from talking to me and said my lungs were extremely "tight" and wheezy. I'm on yet another round of steroids in addition to Advair, Singulair and my albuterol inhaler & nebulizer. I've upped the Advair as well.

In addition to the frustration of being in another asthma flare, I'm frustrated because summer is my "good" and fairly "safe" time. Our humidity is low and the pollens are fairly moderate/low right now. We do have a bit of bad air quality here, but we've been on mostly green days and yellow days which is good. I just don't want to face going into the fall/winter season with flared asthma. I'm hoping the steroids work, but so far, the albuterol hasn't totally been doing the job very well.

I just don't know how much more I can do to get my asthma under control long-term. It has really worn me out over the last several years, both physically and mentally. At this point, moving would probably be a best option so I'm away from the cold, but I will just end up with new allergy triggers so is it really the best? Also, I need a job that pays a livable wage and has good insurance because I certainly have a lot of doctor's visits over the course of a year.

Most of the people around me were very understanding when I first got the asthma, but after so many years of this, I think they aren't so sympathetic/empathetic anymore. They don't understand how draining asthma can be. I get the impression that because I'm not in the hospital with it, it must be OK and that I'm just exaggerating. Prior to my asthma diagnosis, I'd never taken a day of sick leave in school or in my work life. Even the first few years of asthma, I rarely took off. The last couple years, I've taken some days here and there trying to take care of myself, but for the most part, I plug through at work and crash at night. It is harder to deal with all this when most around me just don't understand anymore.

Thanks for listening.
MountainReader
Hi SureBett,

You are right about the moving. I developed allergies as an adult after I moved to Utah 15 years ago. I'm now a couple years into my second go-round of immunotherapy. Currently getting 2 injections weekly for 28 of my worst allergens. Thankfully, they are really helping. While I do have allergy symptoms, they have been fairly mild most of the spring/summer this year. I also started Xolair injections for allergic asthma a few months ago. Most of my asthma triggers are environmental, but my bloodwork came back such that it qualified me for the Xolair. I know when I travel I end up with allergies to something wherever I go though. It is pretty much just a given.

When I talk about the moving, it is in frustration. I've had multiple years now where I've had asthma flares that I couldn't get under control for over 4 months at a time. That typically lasts from November-May. Because it is starting this early, I worry I'll already be aggrevated when winter hits. I just don't know how long I can physically and mentally handle this. Winter and cold air are my worst triggers. Pollution and other environmental things such as cleaners, perfumes and smoke are also triggers for me. Unfortunately, I live in a mountain valley area that has cold winters and typically develops winter inversions (pollution trapped in the valley) which means horrible air quality. Without moving or vacationing, I can't get away from breathing the stuff. Summer is usually my "safe" time of year. There are times I feel I would be better off moving somewhere warm with low humidity. A lower altitude might help as well...who knows.

It is frustrating for me getting the PFT testing. It takes me months to get an appointment with my Pulmonologist and another month to get scheduled for testing. The last several times I was tested, I was feeling just fine and my results were normal. Frustrating that the doc can't see me when I'm having problems. I'm on so many meds I don't think my PCP knows what else to do with me.

Right now, my wheezing is better, but I'm spending about 40-50% of my day coughing and trying to get a good breath. This is despite Advair 500/50, Singulair, Prednisone, Albuterol (inhaler and nebulizer) and Tessalon Perle (for the cough reflex). I'm physically worn out. I've also pulled some stomach and back muscles.

On the flip side, I've had some years where following my asthma action plan has worked wonders and I've been able to get things under control fairly easily. Just not recent years. The mask thing is a real pain, but I've decided I don't care what others think, I'm wearing one if it helps. I found a company on the internet that has cloth masks with special air filters that have helped me. They make a fleece version that I use in the winter and cloth version that can be used in the warmer weather. Not too pretty, but they get the job done. Also great that they are washable.

I do have "silent" acid reflux with both GERD and LPR. My reflux symptom was a cough and flare of asthma. I was able to keep it under control with diet and PPI's twice a day for many years. Unfortunately, about 3 years ago everything just stopped working and I had a reflux triggered asthma attack that required emergency treatment. I ended up having reflux surgery in 2008. So far, it has worked. At least I'm just dealing with environmental asthma right now and not the reflux as well.

I'm glad to hear that you have a supportive husband. Going through this alone is tough.

Here's to hoping tomorrow is better.
MountainReader
I've noticed that, too, that a warm shower sometimes makes things worse, so I try to keep the shower short (including having water on only to wet my skin beforehand and rinse after) and I keep the bathroom vented if I'm having a bad day. The other day, a giant billow of hot steam almost made me stop breathing entirely until I got OUT of it. But very dry heat or dry cold can't be good, either.

For lungs to function at all, they have to be damp but not too damp, so I guess breathing air with the RIGHT amount of humidity is best. I wonder how much humidity is ideal?
I'm curious about the humidity thing too. I developed my asthma after I moved to Utah and developed major allergies. Right now we have 14% humidity. I also live in a high altitude area in the Rocky's. We do get quite a bit of winter snow, but the humidity stays fairly low still in the winters though.

When I went to CA last month, they were in the midst of their "June Gloom" still. The first week I was there, I had asthma problems. I associated it with the air quality and not the humidity. It is also at sea level. 3 factors I hadn't all considered.

I typically do OK in Las Vegas which is a lot lower in humidity that my home environment. I've been there twice in the last two months with no asthma problems other than what I arrived with. In fact, it was in the 110's during my July visit and I didn't have problems with the heat. Granted, I didn't spend extended time outside though.

I haven't spent extended time in the high humidity of the midwest or south that I grew up in for years. I wonder how that would affect me? For some reason, I imagine that the hot humid air I grew up in would would make it hard for me to breathe now since my body is no longer aclimated.

I do have humidifiers I use here. Typically during the winters because the indoor air is so dry. Problem is that I go through them at about one or two a year and it gets expensive. No matter what I try they eventually build up pretty badly with calcifications. It is too expensive to keep buying water to fill them with. I do use a Brita pitcher, but it doesn't do the job completely and eventually the calcification builds. Even using the humidifier cleaners. I should probably pull it out again. Hadn't thought about it.

Interestingly enough, neither my PCP, ENT or nor my Pulmonologist have talked to me about use of a humidifier with the asthma. I'll have to ask next time I have an appointment.

Certainly something worth thinking about.
MountainReader, regarding your comments on humidifiers & humidity, here are 2 experiences I had:

Last year during a severe asthma period, my pulmonoligist said to start using a humidifier at night. When I saw my asthma doctor a week later, she said to stop using it because the minor benefit from more humid air in my airways was more that offset by the greater risk of small amounts of mold or mildew developing in my bedroom from the humidifier. I stopped using it because of her concern plus the humidifier didn't seem to help and I didn't like the gurgling sound it made.

I was in NYC in May and one day was in the high 90's with high humidity. As soon as I stepped outside asthma flared & I couldn't stay outside for more than 5 minutes. As soon as I stepped back into an air conditioned building, the asthma ended. This happened every time I tried to go outside that day.
I've been having the same thing lately, whether it's from a hot sticky day, shower or another cause. As soon as I start breathing air that's very high in humidity, (like literally from the first breath) I start feeling bad. But as soon as I get into drier air, I start feeling better.





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