Asthma and the fear of living

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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/17/2007 11:23 PM (GMT -6)   
This is probably a question more for people who developed asthma as adults. Although I could be wrong, I'd imagine people who have had asthma all their lives have learned to cope with it better than those who develop it later.
I developed EIA (Exercised-Induced Asthma) after a bad chest cold and bronchitis several years ago. Before that I'd never had asthma in my life. I used to be very active and adventurous. I used to go camping, hiking, horse-back riding, biking, and play racquetball. I used to like to push myself to the limits. I'd hike 10 miles at 10,000 feet even though I wasn't in shape for that just because I knew I could push myself and survive. I even once took a wilderness survival course where I slept under a rock without a sleep bag and lived on 500 calories a day. Now, since I developed EIA, I hesitate to even take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood.
I think my fear is more debilitating than the disease itself. I'm told EIA is not a dangerous form of asthma. It can be miserable, but it's not life-threatening. But it still prevents me from living my life. I still want to hike, play racquetball, etc. I want to travel too. I see a show on Machu Picchu and think, I've always wanted to go there! I need to go! But then they say it's a tough hike to the top and I immediately think, oh, I couldn't make it!
Before I just did things. If I wanted to hike the waterfalls in Jamaica I just did it. If I wanted to go photograph wildlife in Yellowstone I just did it. Now I'm too scared to do anything and it's kind of depressing. I know in my head that all I have to do is take a couple puffs of albuterol before I go and I'll be fine. But it's that dependency that causes the fear. What if I forget my inhaler? What if I get a mile up the trail and realize I forgot to use it and it's in my coat pocket in the car? What if I travel to Peru and lose my luggage with my inhaler it?!
So my question is, do you still do the things you used to and want to? How do you deal with the fear, and this feeling of being handicapped and fragile when you were once rugged and fearless?

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 257
   Posted 4/18/2007 11:33 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm a respiratory therapist & asthma educator. So many people are surprised to learn about adult onset asthma. A person can develop AOA by having polyps, sinus problems, GERD, etc. The first step is for you to begin asthma education. The more you know, the more control you have over this disease. My son (now 19) is an asthmatic and was considered severe when he was younger. He was hospitalized numerous time, but this did not stop him from being the normal little boy. He played on a baseball team, rode bikes, speed skated (I was more nervous when he did the jumps than an asthma attack occuring). He ALWAYS carried a rescue inhaler w/him (in his pocket). You didn't state if you were female/male. If female, always carry one in your purse. Also note that each MDI holds 200 sprays (most MDIs, check insert for certain numbers), so learn to keep a check on how many times you use it a day. When the medication is used out of the MDI, it will still sound as if there is med in the meter ... this is the propellent which propels the med into your mouth. So many people come to the ER because their MDI is not giving them relief ... only to find that it's empty. Cold air and high altitudes can also affect asthma. I would recommend not climbing any high mountains... there are beautiful areas all over the world still waiting to be explored w/o having to go into high altitudes. When you go out in the cold, make certain your mouth, throat, & head are covered. Breathing cold air can set off an attack. When you are jogging, make sure to breathe through your nose & not your mouth. The nares naturally warm inhaled air whereas the mouth does not. Do you have asthma symptoms any other occasions than exercise induced? If so, you can ask your MD to be placed on a long acting bronchodilator (Spiriva is the only one that is currently available and works for 24 hrs) and a corticosteroid (will keep the inflammation in the airways down). Contact the American Lung Association for info and begin your new life. Please don't let this stop you ... life is too short. I check this site about 2 - 3 times a week, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. This week I plan on posting medication education. Maybe some of this might help you. Good luck and just because you have one bad day, don't let the next day stop you from enjoying every moment!

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 28
   Posted 4/18/2007 9:02 PM (GMT -6)   
I know how you feel. I was only recently diagnosed the asthma. My symptoms started over a little over 2 years ago and it took nearly a year and a half to find out what was wrong. My single biggest trigger seems to perfumes, strong fragrances and smells and cigarette smoke. I am afraid that I will have problems every time I step out my front door. And some times just staying home is scary. (I live in an apartment and many of my neighbors smoke and it comes through the vents.) I hate the fact that I can't even go to the movies without praying that no one will sit any where near me wearing any perfume. I always have an inhaler with me. One in my purse, one at home, one at work, one in my bookbag. This way I'm never far from one.

I take Advair 250/50 2x a day, Spriva once in the morning, Singulair occasionally, Claritin sometimes, and use my albuterol inhaler as needed. (I've made the switch to Proventil HFA but haven't used it yet and I am waiting to see if it works for me or if I have problems like others have been reporting.)

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 4/21/2007 4:02 PM (GMT -6)   
My situation is also similar to yours. I'm in my early 50's and never had asthma until about 15 months ago when I was exposed to a lot (and I mean a lot) of paper shredding fibers over a period of several days. Right after that I developed symptoms of asthma that I'm still dealing with over a year later, although it is mostly controlled with medication now. But despite all the meds, sometimes I still get severe exacerbations and also have EIA now and it is always very distressing and depressing when the asthma symptoms recur.

I get some comfort from having done a lot of research and learned as much as possible about this disease and the meds available to treat it. I also get comfort from having ample supplies of all the meds I might need around. For example, just for emergencies, I always keep a supply of oral Prednisone on hand, especially when traveling. Fortunately I haven't had to use it often but it has kept me out of the emergency room on more than one occasion over the past year and it is a great comfort to know it is there and available should I need it.

It still amazes me though that one day I can be feeling completely healthy and normal and then when symptoms return be feeling completely miserable. When I'm feeling good though, I feel pretty comfortable about traveling as long as I have all the meds I might need with me and I always carry them in my carry on luggage to avoid the risk of losing them. Recently I spent 4 months in S.E. Asia and that went pretty well, asthma wise.

It definitely sucks to be dependent on so much medication, but what choice do we have? I'm very thankful though that these medications that are allowing me to lead an almost normal life exist. Imo, it's helpful to focus on and be thankful for what we still have rather than on what MIGHT happen and what we don't have. Things could be a lot worse.
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