I’m 54 year old female. I am a professor at a university in Illinois. Never had allergies or asthma until I moved to USA 25 years ago. Beginning from the 2nd year of living in the US (Texas, Illinois, NJ), I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies (tree pollens-nut trees, rag weed, etc.,), but have never experienced asthma attack. I’ve been on Singulair for the past 4 years for allergies, but not for asthma - but this makes it all the more surprising that I did have an asthma attack - and many, many more to follow.
My first asthma attack was 20 minutes into hiking at a hilly park in mid June of 2012 (last summer). It was SO sudden and SO severe that we initially thought it was some kind of heart problem, which the doctor ruled out. The doctor prescribed ProAir 2 puffs a day, with the thought that it might have been some kind of exercise induced asthma. A few days later, another attack occurred while gardening in my backyard, while still on medication. For the next two weeks I would get attacks once or twice a week, no matter whether I was indoors or outdoors.
Was referred to a pulmonary doctor who prescribed Qvar (Corticosteroid inhaler) which didn’t improve my shortness of breath/narrowing of chest. After 3 weeks of no improvement, I was prescribed Symbicort 80, and the dilator in that caused more bronchospasms. I was then prescribed Spiriva, which didn't work at all - and actually seemed to worsen my breathing problems. At this point, the doctor wasn't even sure I had asthma, as I didn't have any weezing cough or mucus problems - it was always shortness of breath attacks caused by the narrowing of the bronchi.
I took pulmonary functioning test, which was normal, and then the doctor ordered a Methacholin Challenge test to see if I indeed had asthma - which turned out positive. He was then convinced I had asthma, but "atypical" asthma.
Throughout this time, I had Prednisone, an oral steroid. I was going to try Advair, but the pulmonary doctor said it would be just like Symbicort, and that I wouldn't be able to use it due to paradoxical bronchospasm. I started using Asmanex 220 twice a day. Breathing problem seemed to get better for a few days, but after that I continued to had the sudden attacks regardless.
During this time, we were trying to get insurance to approve a visit to the mayo clinic, but were having difficulty doing so. The insurance company referred us to a new pulmonary doctor within the network. The new doctor did prescribe Advair 500/50, as he explained the dilator is different from that of Symbicort. His belief was that severe asthma should be controlled with high dosage corticosteroids in the beginning and then gradually reduced over time. Advair did have some effect, but did not completely control the situation.
Insurance finally approved my visit to Mayo Clinic and I went there just to get a second opinion. The two doctors that I saw there figured that everything that should’ve been done was done my doctors at home.
They did not have a solution, and no one knows what causes triggers these attacks. We originally thought it was due to allergies to pollen and ragweed, but this issue has continued through the winter. There are good days and bad days, but in terms of environment nothing changes. We've bought all sorts of air purifiers, vacuums, etc. but there has been no change - the attack is always sudden and random.
Does this sound familiar to anyone/have any idea what is triggering my asthma attacks? I will soon try non traditional medicines, i.e., herbal medications and acupuncture. I hope it will help my symptoms, but still no one seems to know the cause. Anyone have any ideas??
Post Edited (kyumma) : 2/19/2013 10:35:48 AM (GMT-7)