Help with Mystery Illness

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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 49
   Posted 4/15/2008 10:37 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, i'm new to the boards and glad I found them. I am hoping to get some advice on some big health issues I have been having. I had mild asthma as a small child that didn't require medication, and my grandma had asthma. I started noticing that I have been a little short of breath over the last three years since I moved to a different area that is a little damper, more so when I moved to a country property a couple years ago. Since moving to the country property my breathing seemed to get labored at certain times of the year but I was able to control it with eating well, exercise, and breathe deep tea. I got a flu in February and it went into my lungs, and I had trouble breathing. The doctor put me on Advair 100/50 and oral steroids for a week. My shortness of breath continued and I was still sick in March. They did an xray, a cat scan, lab tests, and couldn't find anything other than mild infection. I have been on two courses of antibiotics. I stopped the advair and had an attack and ended up in emergency with a peak flow of 200. I went on more steroids and Qvar instead of Advair.
I wake up most mornings coughing and gagging. I feel short of breath and anxious most of the day. It's really distressing. I am really tired all the time. I seem to also suffer from acid reflux. My head feels cloudy and hay feverish. They did a test to measure my oxygen at night and it was going down to 70% so I have to do a formal sleep study. I am also going to do a pulmonary function test.
I am really depressed as it is going on month three of feeling extreme distress most of the day every day. I feel my anxiety is really starting to get worse and I am agitated and distressed. I thought asthma attacks come and go, I don't know why I feel so bad all the time. It's like I need to be in bed. Also, could the advair effect my mood? I rinse after use but I have bad effects on oral steroids, they cause me alot of anxiety. I also think it is affecting my teeth, they are very sensitive and I have heard others complain about that.
Has anyone heard of such drastic allergy asthma symptoms to keep a person down and feeling short of breath all the time? I can't even drive, I am so sick and tired and anxious.
Thanks for any advice. I also am open to any natural remedies.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23549
   Posted 4/15/2008 2:24 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi and welcome to Healingwell. I really don't have much more advice and I'm sure our other Allergies/Asthma moderator will be along soon. She has asthma, I just suffer from allergies :) Essentially though it sounds like your asthma is not under control. Are you on any allergy meds in addition to your asthma meds? What about acid reflux meds?

Regarding the steroids, any form of steroid can alter your mood if taken for a length of time. It is listed as a possible side effect unfortunately.
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Another Day
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 1055
   Posted 4/15/2008 7:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Beachmom, I would also like to welcome you to Healingwell.  I have had allergies most of my life and severe asthma came on with a vengeance about six years ago at the age of 51.  I finally had to take early retirement from my job because of that and I was also diagnosed with epilepsy.  I still get bronchitis here and there and I can't be real active, but not having to get out in the cold or when it is too hot and humid to go to work has helped my asthma.  The point I am trying to make is that environment does make a difference in asthma.
The Advair 100/50 your doctor had you on is the lowest dose they make it in.  So, I'm not surprised it didn't help you.  I'm sure you know it is a controller medication.
Do you know what your personal best peak flows are supposed to be?  I call it, the red, yellow and green lights.  It is definitely different for everyone, but 200 is when I am supposed to go to the ER.  Has anyone ever given you a peak flow meter with this marked on the back for you?  It's a very handy tool, you can show it to them at the ER.
I really doubt that the Advair would have affected your mood, but the steroids definitely do, but it is much better to tolerate the mood swings and keep breathing.  Have you found yourself a new allergist or pulmonologist since you have moved?
I did have enough reflux that it was triggering a lot of my asthma attacks and causing me to lose sleep at night, which made me tired.  This was when I was still working.  They don't take repairing your esophagus lightly, and that's good.  For that part, my allergist referred me to a pulmonologist just to make sure she wasn't missing anything and he was the one who wanted to check out the reflux.  My allergist had been concerned about that also, but that was a little bit out of her field.  They put you through quite a few tests to determine if you need this surgery. I did have my esophagus and a hiatal hernia repaired a couple of years ago.  It did help my asthma to some degree.
You say you have moved to an area where it is damp.  Have you had allergy testing before?  If so, are you allergic to mold?  Is there a basement in you home?  If so, is it dry?
I know this is lengthy, but I'm trying to toss out as many questions as I can to be able to help you.  I've been where you are.  It is depressing to be sick so long and not feel like you have the energy to get out of bed, but when your lungs are not functioning properly, sometimes that's the best you can do.
I hope you are with the right doctors who can help you through this and I hope some of my experiences might trigger something for you.
Here are the things that help me the most:  When the temperature is below 20 I absolutely by doctor's orders do not leave the house, when I do go out in the cold I always make sure my mouth and nose are covered, I never leave home without my portable nebulizer and my inhaler in my purse and a bottle of water.  My two most important medications are the Xolair injection which I take once a month and the Xolair inhaler.  Of course my other asthma medications  are important also.
Please, if you have any other questions, just let me know.  I do not want you sitting there feeling depressed and hopeless.  You can get better.  You just have to find the right doctor.
Take care!

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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 49
   Posted 4/17/2008 5:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Carla. It's been really hard, especially trying to take care of my kids. I had a basic blood tests done at the doctor which showed a couple of plants that I am allergic to, as well as a mild wheat allergy, but not mold or dust mites. I'm not sure if some tests are better than others. I did a food sensitivity test and that showed some other foods and molds that I am sensitive to. We don't have a basement but we have a crawl space, common in Northern California.
The doctor had me on 250/50 advair twice a day for a while but I have been taking it in the morning only as it doesn't seem to make a difference either way. I was even wondering if my shortness of breath was related to asthma as my rescue inhaler doesn't help it either. I did a pulmonary test yesterday and there were a couple of areas that were a little lower than normal but i'l have to wait for results, he did say that the test I did where I breathed in and out that my breath was better than normal for my age, but then I took the abuterol and it got even better. My peak flow for my age I believe is 440, and I am usually right around there although the last couple of days it has been higher, around 460-500. Not sure why as it has usually been 430-450 during this illness. It's not like i'm feeling good.
I wish I could move and just see if a different area would help but finances make that hard. What kind of environment is good for people having asthma? Dry?
I really appreciate your reply. I am feeling kind of hopeless, I even bought an Austin air purifier in hopes it may help.
Did medications help your acid reflux? The doctor wants me to take prilosec.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 49
   Posted 4/17/2008 6:32 PM (GMT -7)   
I checked the average peak flow for my age and it is 370. So mine is quite a bit higher. Maybe that's why the pumonary guy asked if I was a runner. How much does peak flow tell you about your breathing? If I am having shortness of breath and my peak flow is ok, what does that tell? The pumonary guy said that my breathing out was improved by abuterol even though it was good before it, so that must show something. Oh boy, it's hard to sort this out. Mornings seem to be the hardest time for me and evenings seem to often be better. Anyone have any theories about this?
It was similar when I was at my mom's house for a week so I am not sure if it is anything in my room.
I have also lost a ton of weight over the last couple months, over twenty pounds, and I am rarely hungry, eating is a real chore these days. Not normal for me. Has anyone else had eating problems related to asthma or breathing issues?

Another Day
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 1055
   Posted 4/17/2008 8:49 PM (GMT -7)   
Here is a little bit of information I found on peak flows.
Why should I measure my peak expiratory flow?

Measuring your PEF is important, because it lets you:

  • Determine your asthma zones, which you use in your asthma action plan. During an acute asthma attack, which zone you are in determines your medication and action.
  • Know whether an acute asthma attack is going to occur and how severe it may be. If you know you are going to have an asthma attack, you can take medicine to prevent it or make it less severe. This may help you avoid having to go to the emergency room.
  • Identify things that may trigger an asthma attack, such as pollen, cigarette smoke, or dust mites.
  • Measure changes in your breathing. This can help your health professional to:
    • Decide whether you need to change, increase, or decrease the long-term medicine used in your daily asthma treatment plan.
    • Tell which medicines are helping your breathing and which are not.

I'm wondering if this doctor has seen you enough in distress, having asthma attacks to really know what your personal best is.  I'm not a medical professional by any means, but if you are feeling that bad and you think  370 is supposed to your personal best, maybe you have been misinformed.

If your peak flows are at 370 and you are still have so much trouble, I have to wonder if that really is your personal best peak flow.  I think the air purifier is a great idea.  I have one in my bedroom and it really helps. 

As for your question about what kind of environment is better to live in, I really don't know.  I have a friend here who is trying to sell her home so she can move to Florida because she says she can breathe so much better there.

I really wish you would ask your doctor about the Xopenex inhaler.  It has made such a difference for me.  None of the other inhalers really did anything for me.  I would have to use my nebulizer with the Xopenex in it.

When I think I'm in trouble, the peak flow tells me a lot.  If I call my allergist's office and say I'm in trouble, can I come in, the first thing they do is take my peak flows and the doctor listens to my chest.  Usually when I've made those calls, I am in trouble and they have to give me epinephrine, sometimes several injections.  Taking epi is no fun at all if you have never had it.  It makes you want to climb the walls, but it opens up your lungs.

In answer to your question about the medication helping my reflux, yes, Nexium definitely does the job.  The others I have tried did not.  If the Prilosec doesn't help you, I would go straight for the Nexium. 

I know you are really frustrated and I totally understand, I am here for you if I can help you in any way.  I know it must be extra tough going through this and taking care of kids also.

Take care!



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Help support the forums so we can support you:
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