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Allergy induced asthma sufferer

Hello fellow members! My name’s Matthew. I’ve been diagnosed with allergy induced asthma about 3 years ago at the age of 19. I found out I was allergic to molds, trees, pollen, dust mites, ragweed and a few other things not including foods or pets. I live in Chicago, IL. When everything starts blooming I start feeling like ****. I’ve been taking claritin regularly and montelukast at night. My asthma symptoms weren’t as bad when I was taking montelukast in the morning, but I started getting mood swings all day and I felt completely out of it. I started taking it in the evening as I usually do, and I’m just having nightmares now =]

I also take albuterol in the morning and try to take it in the evening which is almost impossible for me because I work and go to school full time. I can’t take this medication at work because I start getting hyper and shaky for a little. I stopped using pulmicort after reading the reviews on Rxlist and finding out some individuals got OSTEOPOROSIS because of it.

My diet is very healthy and I work out consistently. Recently i’ve had no motivation to do either. Although I have a healthy diet, my breathing is still ****. I went to the gym this week and could barely lift any of the weight I usually lift because of this ****** condition. Quiet upset with this condition and still can’t accept it. I’ve done sports all throughout high school (basketball, cross country, track) all sports involving high intensity workouts.

Any of you guys in immunotherapy? I’ve been getting allergy shots for almost three years now and I feel like it hasn’t made much of a difference. Pretty certain claritin/montelukast is doing all the work. 

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Comments 7

  • kira

    Hi Matthew! I think it is great that you know your asthma triggers.

    Montelukast has been known to cause mood issues. Have you talked to your dr about the side effects you are having?

    Besides albuterol, are taking an asthma controller inhaler since stopping the Pulmicort? Unfortunately, there are side effects to taking any medication, but you need to see if the benefits outweigh the negative side effects. Did you notify your dr that you discontinued the Pulmicort?

    Have you tried any other antihistamines besides Claritin? Personally, Claritin did nothing for me. Currently, I am taking Xyzal, my husband, son and youngest daughter take Zyrtec. Have you tried other allergy treatments?

  • miri

    Welcome, Matthew … sounds like you’ve had a frustrating time of it! It’s always a balance to find the right approach for a person’s asthma and allergies. Have you talked to your doctor about the risks that Pulmicort would have for a person like yourself?

    For instance, are you at a naturally higher risk for osteoporosis? Women develop osteoporosis four times more often than men, so being a guy might make your chances, even with the smaller dose of corticosteroids in a drug like Pulmicort, much less than if you were a woman.

    Other things that may make osteoporosis more likely according to WebMd:

    – Unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, getting too little calcium and vitamin D, and not enough exercise
    – Race. White men appear to be at the greatest risk
    – Small body frame

    I understand your worry about osteoporosis – I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my mid-20s, before my asthma was diagnosed.

    But osteoporosis is something that takes a while to develop, with many stops in the road where you can adjust and make changes. An asthma attack can be serious — and lead to high doses of corticosteroids by mouth or IV, which might increase your risk more than the lower dose of an inhaled corticosteroid.

    A friend taught me this great discussion tool to use when talking with my doc about treatment plans, tests or medications: BRAND

    B – Benefit – How will this help me?

    R – Risk – What are the risks of this for a person like me? Can you help me see that in real numbers? In a room of 100 people just like me, how many of them would stand up and say, “Yeah, that adverse effect happened to me?”

    A – Alternatives – What are the alternatives? Are there other possible options? Why weren’t they your first choice?

    N – Nothing – What happens if we wait and see? What happens if I decide to do nothing?

    D – Decision – This is a joint decision that I make with my doc after going through the first four steps.

  • Matthew

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I’ve been taking montelukast at night for three years. Just recently I’ve done the switch where I took it in the morning which was a mistake. I use it regularly now without a problem but I’ll have nightmares now and then which isn’t a big deal.

    My allergist recommended I purchase a nebulizer. I started using the albuterol packets for that and pulmicort packets were included as well. I couldn’t stand using the nebulizer. Very time consuming and I didn’t feel a difference with it.

    I’m leaving for vacation this week and I plan on meeting with my allergist ASAP to see if I can make a change and try out a different inhaler. As long as I’m staying away from corticosteroids.

    My allergist recommended Claritin from the start and I felt a MAJOR difference when I first started using it so I kind of just stuck to it. I tried Claritin-D for a week because I accidentally purchased it instead of the regular one. I felt brain fog for a while and it scared me to try anything else because I simply couldn’t stand some of the symptoms involved with trying new medication.

  • Aaliyah

    Hi Matthew. I am sorry to hear about the allergy issues. I had a bad experience with Singulair– it worked great at first but after a year of taking it I started getting different/worse symptons and developed a very serious allergic condition called churg-strauss syndrome that previously was very rare but has been getting more common and is being correlated with the medication singulair (although causation has not yet been proven). I was 28 when diagnosed and it was after developing asthmatic problems (which I never had asthma before taking it, had only had environmental allergies prior which is why I started it). No one ever warned me about the increased risk of developing Churg-Strauss Syndrome, and I wish I could go back and warn myself because it has really been difficult to deal with. But I also dont say stop anything without talking to your doctor, and that if you have an allergist they can often see signs in your bloodwork, such as very high eosinophils in a CBC lab test, that would be red flags (my primary care doctor had prescribed me the singulair and missed warning signs).

    Now I am more skeptical/distrusting with meds but have to be on a lot for my disease which is lifelong now that I have it Allergies are nothing to take lighly and they can be a growing problem when flared up, so I am glad you are reaching out and looking for answers!

    My favorite method for dealing with allergies is making the home environment a sanctuary as clear from allergens as possible, and practicing avoidance (like instead of being outside for longer periods of time in the morning and early afternoon, go out around 4pm and later when the allergen levels are lower. Change clothes as soon as you come in and put them in a hamper away from your room. And leave shoes by the door. HEPA purifier in thr bedroom. Although it is annoying, washing sheets weekly in hot water really helps, and encasements are also a big plus for dustmite allergies. Control as much as you can without meds. I take benadryl at night too. I trust benadryl and it really makes a difference for me. Plus I sleep well (it makes you really drowsy so dont take during the day).

    As for biologics, it can be hard to get approved and they are expensive even with insurance, but I had some success with Nucala in the past when I coukd afford it. But it was hard to get approved and very expensive and is a monthly injection for severe uncontrolled asthma and also for churg-strauss syndrome and it lowered my eosinophils in my CBC.

    I have to use inhaled corticosteroids too. I didnt want to at first either. But when I looked into the allergic asthma process, my lungs were trying to close because the allergens were coming in and my body was producing inflammation. Just using albuterol opens the airways so you get even more allergens coming in and causung more inflammation, because once the inflammation us there the allergens are even more irritating. The inhaled corticosteroids are for the inflammation– like a fire extinguisher. Once that gets cleared and healed some, you can usually stop taking them regularly. They help get things under control. You still use your other things (antihistamines, avoidance, albuterol as needed) and you get the flare up under control, which often helps you to be less sensitive because you are less open and inflamed. I deal with this alot because my allergic disease made my allergies so much worse, that I have had to learn a lot about how to just get by day to day on these meds. I also get monitored for osteoporosis and take cal-mag-vit D supplements.

  • Help

    Hi Matthew, welcome. I lived in Chicago for a bit, the springs there were the worst. I feel your pain.

    A few thoughts:

    – do you do nasal salt water rinses? Feels weird but can help with allergy symptoms if done daily. If the pollen isn’t in your body, it can’t cause any problems and no side effects!

    – nervous/jittery after albuterol. Do you use a holding chamber? If not, give one a shot, you may be hitting your back of your throat with the puffs and swallowing a lot which will make you feel like you drank 50 cups of coffee. You can ask your allergist for a levalbuterol prescription. Same thing as albuterol, just purified with less jittery/tachycardia.

    – don’t like corticosteroids? Neither do I. I hated reading about the side effects; unfortunately for us, it’s the mainstay of therapy. If your breathing isn’t controlled (rescue use more than 2 times/week), you’re going to need a treatment bump up. Maybe this could just be a temporary thing, and then you could come down when allergy season is over. I’m sure you already know, but the main tools are bronchodilators (short and long), inhaled steroids, and anticholinergics. The rub is long acting bronchodilators always have to be given with a steroid, because taking them alone increases the risk of asthma related death. To my knowledge, there are no inhaled steroids out there that don’t come along with increased risk of osteoporosis, cataracts, etc. Maybe you could ask your allergist if something like low dose advair could work for you? This way you get the anti inflammatory effect of the steroid but at lowest dose possible, plus get the benefit of a long acting bronchodilator so you don’t need to whip out your inhaler at work or school.

    There are other options like spiriva, but usually that won’t be offered until long acting beta agonist and corticosteroid combo drugs have been tried. The other option would be a biologic like xolair, but it has the same strings attached, and like Shea mentioned, it’s very expensive and has its own side effect risk profile.

    – allergies; if you’re having breakthrough nasal symptoms you could ask about switchimg to twice daily cetirizine and adding nasal steroid sprays.

    Sorry to be a wet blanket with my thoughts. I just want to save you from progressing to severe asthma/allergies. Then life really gets scary/miserable when you need injection steroids to break a flare and daily oral steroids (one oral steroid burst is about equivalent to > 3 years of inhaled steroids). I hope these ideas help and after talking with your allergist, get you on a road to better breathing and get you back into the gym!

  • miri

    Matthew, have you read AAFA’s 2019 Spring Allergy Capitals report? It lists the top 100 metropolitan cities where it is the most challenging to live with seasonal allergies.

  • Aaliyah

    I have lived in Chicago my whole life. Yes allergy season is upon us. It’s good you are seeing your allergist. Make sure you tell them about the nightmares, it may seem silly but drug reactions should not be ignored. I use budesonide in my sinus rinse and it has helped me a lot. I also use allerga, daily inhaler is symbicort. Yes nebulizer can make you shaky but I’ve noticed it gets better as I’ve used it.