Sudden and Severe Asthma Attacks - No One Knows Why

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kyumma
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/18/2013 10:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone,

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)


Red_34
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23551
   Posted 2/19/2013 8:09 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm sorry you are going thru this :( I can only imagine how scary this is for you. I don't have asthma, just allergies. Have you had any allergy testing to see how severe your allergies are?
SHERRY
Moderator-Allergies/Asthma, Alzheimer's, IBS, Co-moderator-UC
Diagnosed Left sided UC '92 - meds: Colazal, Remicade (6mp discontinued due to neuropathy)*Unable to tolerate ALL mesalamines*, IBS, Diverticuliar Disease, Fibro, Sacroiilitis, Raynauds, OA, PA, Rosacea, Psoriasis, Dry Eye and allergies controlled by Zyrtec and Singular

kyumma
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/19/2013 11:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Yes, I got testing done and know that I'm allergic to tree pollens including hickory nuts, walnuts, etc., also ragweed. My allergy doctor couldn't figure out why I still have attacks during non-allergic season. I'm not certain of the severity -

Thank you for the support and reply.

Red_34
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23551
   Posted 2/20/2013 7:21 AM (GMT -6)   
What about dust or dust mites? Do you have carpet in your home? Besides Singulair, are you on any other allergy med such as Zyrtec?
SHERRY
Moderator-Allergies/Asthma, Alzheimer's, IBS, Co-moderator-UC
Diagnosed Left sided UC '92 - meds: Colazal, Remicade (6mp discontinued due to neuropathy)*Unable to tolerate ALL mesalamines*, IBS, Diverticuliar Disease, Fibro, Sacroiilitis, Raynauds, OA, PA, Rosacea, Psoriasis, Dry Eye and allergies controlled by Zyrtec and Singular

CloverHead
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/20/2013 7:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi,
I've had asthma and repeated lung infections most of my life. I grew up in Chicago. I was sickest during the coldest months of the year. Finally I concluded that in addition to polin, ragweed, dust etc. I was basically allergic to the cold. Being in heated, dried-out indoor environments doesn't help either. I'm not surprised you would have symptoms in the winter.

kyumma
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/21/2013 6:41 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks. I also figured the temperature must be causing this constant post nasal drainage plus runny nose in the morning and night, especially. I also realized that doctors don't necessarily figure out the cause and treatment of allergies.

CloverHead
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/21/2013 8:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi again,
Here are a few suggestions.

1. Check out the Buteyko method of treatment.

2. Try to always breathe through your nose. This helped me a lot.

3. Get a nebulizer. You can use it with sterile water if you don't want the albuterol. It will help break up your congestion.

4. Look into an anti-inflamation diet such as the Virgin Diet. It eliminates wheat, dairy, corn, peanuts, gluten...

5. Coffee is a natural bronchodilator.

6. Avoid wine. Hot toddies made with bourbon, lemon and honey are good!

kyumma
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2013
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/22/2013 6:14 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the suggestion. I've been wondering about special diet and alternative methods.

Mommylife
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 26
   Posted 4/19/2013 12:02 AM (GMT -6)   
My son has the same thing, he is two but has had it since he was one, my husband's father had the same thing too. No wheezing, no warning just boom holding his neck can't breathe, his eyes wide from fear. The doctors arent' sure what are causing this, but I have to agree with the comment above about getting a nebulizer. It has helped Isaiah tremendously and he has albuterol and saline. One treatment of albuterol has (almost) always stopped his attack. Hope this helps and you feel better :)

Razzle
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4415
   Posted 4/19/2013 6:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Consider chronic fungal sinus infection causing post-nasal drainage that gets down into your bronchial tubes as a culprit. Most Pulmonologists, Allergists & ENT's don't consider this.

Aspergillus is one possible cause of Asthma-like symptoms that won't respond favorably to steroids or bronchodilators. Must use antifungal medication to treat this.
-Razzle

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube
Meds: Flagyl, Domperidone, Zofran, Claritin, Andrographis & other herbs, homeopathy, supplements, etc.

Ryaleigh
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2015
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/5/2015 6:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Kyumma I know this is a long shot, but I have the EXACT symptoms and medication problems you do. By any chance you read this is there anything you have done to fix it or help the situation? I am lost too as what to do, as are my pulmonologists and my allergists

Contentprof
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 412
   Posted 7/26/2015 12:58 AM (GMT -6)   
I have some similar symptoms which they finally diagnosed as allergic asthma after recurring pneumonia & other complications. It was late onset - at about age 35.
It has been very challenging to get under control. With help of allergist & pulmonologist, we finally figured out the primary triggers, and how they create lots of post nasal drip. The key has been staying on maintenance meds and adding oral prednisone only as a last resort for a really bad exacerbation.
So every day- Zyrtec, Omnaris, symbicort, sungulair at bedtime, either asmanex or alvesco inhalers if needed, along with allergy shots & xolair injections.
I sip hot/warm water all day long. At night, i also use nasal rinse followed by steam (puremist is a good steamer). The inhalers can make you hoarse & give you a sore throat, so the water & steamer help relieve that a bit.
Hang in there. You can make this manageable.
55 yrs old. UC >12 yrs after proctitus. For flares failed prednisone, cortenemas (too little too late), mesalamines (hives, fever), 6mp (fever), Uceris (no effect). 12/13: remicade stopped severe flare! 6/14: i stopped remicade due to debilitating joint pains & weakness. Dx: Anti-TNF Induced Lupus; polyneuropathy; recovered w/prednisone (40mg then very slow taper ~ 4 months). Next UC meds?

super20dan
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2014
Total Posts : 985
   Posted 7/26/2015 9:10 PM (GMT -6)   
nebulizer is your best option. if you use it its virtually impossiable to have an attack. advair is better than all the rest of the inhailed steroids. no one has mentioned xoliar shots? . if you use the nebulizer 3 times a day -i dont see how you can even have an attack-its that good.

lisat8744
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2015
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 7/27/2015 6:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I wish I could offer some suggestions, but I can't. Just support. I too am having unbelievable difficulty figuring out asthma triggers and how to get it under control. I've had asthma my entire life, but only mild to moderate. In the last 3 months it's become severe and continuous, with little relief. I wish you the best and hope you find relief. I know how you feel. sad

super20dan
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2014
Total Posts : 985
   Posted 7/29/2015 5:44 PM (GMT -6)   
there is no sub for the nebulizer. every one with severe asthma should have one. it payes for its self over and over in avoided dr visits and trips to the er
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