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My aunt had her first asthma attack in 2001 during a hike in the mountains. She didn't think it was asthma because she was an adult (50) and had never had it before. She had a few attacks and finally went to the doctor in 2002 and was diagnosed with asthma. He started her on meds but by the end of the month she was hospitalized with an attack. Things that set off the attacks are smoke, fumes, perfumes, laughing hard, coughing hard.

Over the last ten years, she would have occasional attacks but would respond fairly well to taking treatments (after a few days.) Last April she had a coughing fit that triggered an attack so bad she had to be put on a ventilator, and then got MRSA from being on the ventilator. After April she never felt good again, it was always hard to breathe, and difficult to go to work (she's a NNICU nurse.) In November she had another bad attack from fumes in the parking structure at work and was hospitalized again. Since November she's found it so difficult to breathe (and talk and move around) that she hasn't been able to go back to work.

She's on a bunch of meds: Asmanex, Advair, Singular, Spiriva, Albuterol, Atravent, Albuterol inhaler, HC72, Lasix, Clonidine, Pravestatin, Nortriptulin, Vicodin as needed, Pantoprazole, Prednisone. She's been to several doctors, who haven't been able to give her a reason that she's not getting better. The hospital where she works just informed her that they're going to have to give away her position if she doesn't return to work soon, but right now she's unable to breathe well enough to be carrying babies around. And she's just miserable. She's the caretaker of my grandmother so that's another tough situation.

Does anyone have any ideas for her? I hate to see her so tired and miserable and I'm worried for her if she loses her job. She's been told disability doesn't cover her asthma, though with the complication of an asthma-induced enlarged heart, they might. Regardless, we all want her to feel better. Is it possible that this isn't asthma? Is there some other treatment for her?

Thank you so much.

Michelle
Definitely a complicated and bad situation. I have three thoughts:

1) Is it possible that she's having a paradoxical reaction to one of her medications? I mean, that is a long list! When I got asthma, the first inhaler I was prescribed actually made my breathing worse.

2) Does she have any allergies? It sounds like her triggers are not allergic, but allergies could be feeding the cycle of inflammation.

3) Are there any potential triggers in her home? Cleaning products, dust, aerosols, air freshener?





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