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Need Help with Daily Issues

HI Everyone! I am here because I have adult-onset asthma. I've had it for 4 years now. My triggers are exercise and cold, dry weather. I have no known allergies, except to dust mites. I still haven't found a medication that works for me. I struggle with breathing in daily activities like getting to work, taking the stairs, cycling, swimming, and pretty much any elevation. I have only a 5-6% increase in airflow with albuterol, and the steroid inhalers, even when used over the long term, don't seem to make any difference. So, right now I'm looking for some tips and ideas about how to get through this! I have (and still try to be) an active person, but instead of a joy, it is now a slog after which I need at least an hour of breathing recovery, even with daily use of my albuterol inhaler in the morning. It is both frustrating and embarrassing, since I am often left breathing heavily and/or unable to take full breaths, and others who notice get concerned. Not being able to exercise as frequently or as much is really tough, since I also struggle to maintain my weight. Any tips on how to treat/handle exercise/ cold air induced asthma would be great!

Thanks!

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  • Kathy P

    Hi Emza – I pulled your reply out of the weekly welcome into it's own topic so more people would see it. 

    I too have . And when my "regular" asthma (mostly allergic) is under control, I can pretreat and manage my exercise induced asthma.

    Since you haven't found a controller med that works for you, have the docs looked at possible other conditions that have symptoms similar to asthma? AAFA just launched about a campaign about ?

  • Shea

    Hi Emza, 

    I am trying to figure out how to exercise more too. Im better with walking than running.

    My thought on cold, dry air is trying a mask–I have used Vog mask and Cambridge mask from Amazon because they look cooler than the masks you can get at a hardware store, and they have goid straps and charcoal filters. Im still self-conscious wearing them out, but I use them at home a lot. They make the air you breathe more warm and moist, while also filtering out dust and so its super clean air. It might be worth a try.

    I want to start on my exercise bike at home during bad weather, and daily walks outside for good weather. I also take my son to the park or to a play area and chase him around as my breathing allows. I always have my rescue inhaler on me. 

    I have had greater success with breathing treatments in a nebulizer (I nebulize budesonide and albuterol, ipatroprium-bromide) than with the inhalers (besides my albuterol rescue inhaler, which I carry everywhere). But I am kinda weird–not a typical asthma patient because my asthma is part of a greater chronic allergic immune disease called Churg-Strauss Syndrome– but I have always felt nebulized meds get deeper in my lungs and I dont get bad reactions like I have with some inhalers. 

  • Pljohns

    Welcome Emza!  We're glad you found us and hopefully you will get some really good tips from our members but more than anything, you definitely WILL get super good support!  

    I'm adult onset also (6 years now) and no known allergies (I've been tested for everything under the sun).  The only sure fire things that will be me going are cold air, strong smells (not always the same ones) and the weather.  it's so frustrating not knowing what is going to give you a problem.  I struggle with exercise too-sometimes I just don't have the air to walk-let alone exercise and yes, that causes weight issues-especially when you get stuck on high doses of prednisone for 6-8 weeks at a time.  

    I am unable to use inhalers at all-there is something in the propellent that my lungs don't like so I have to use a nebulizer all the time.  Unfortunately, albuterol has started giving me problems as well so I'm struggling trying to find something to use.  I have recently changed PCP's and pulmo's and have a follow up appointment with the pulmo next week.  I need a sick plan-have never had one but I need one.  I've also had allergic reactions to literally every asthma med on the market so I have to use a COPD drug off label.  It's a nebulized med but it works for me and between that and max doses of inhaled steroids, I do pretty OK most of the time but it's like my pulmo said-asthma on a hairpin trigger-it doesn't take much to set it off and when it goes, it goes fast and hard.  It's taken me 6 weeks to get a flare under control and my lungs are far from recovered but at least I can breathe and am finally back down to maintenance meds and off the prednisone and nebulizers every 3-4 hours.  

    You've gotten some really good tips/advise already about things to ask your doctor and suggestions to do.  I think most of us keep a journal of some type-electronic or just jot a note on a calendar-so we can see if there are any trends in what gives us issues.  That has helped me more than anything-it let me know that weather is a HUGE trigger for me-and one I have no control over.  

    Welcome to the forum!!!

  • Megan Roberts

    Hey @Emza, a lot of us are struggling with exercise and cold/dry air triggers, myself included. And you've already got some great advice above. It sounds like you haven't gotten your symptoms under control yet, in which case talking to your doc is your best bet for finding relief. I was going through the same thing as you last winter. I've had a milder form of asthma for most of my life but last winter was the first time it made it hard or impossible to continue doing my regular exercise activities. 

    My doc tried oral steroids first and that didn't solve the problem. I was overusing my albuterol inhaler for every workout. Like, really overusing it. Still not enough. I went back to my doctor and did my research on controller meds. Finally — with a LOT of persistence and trying different things out– I found a combination that has made it possible to mostly return to my previous level of functioning during exercise. 

    I also avoid exercising outside when below 45 degrees, complete a really long warmup before any exertion (especially sprints, which close down my airways fast otherwise), and really listen to my body. If you push yourself through asthma symptoms, that causes inflammation that sticks around for days. It's exhausting and disruptive. So I've learned that instead of pushing through, I back off and "live to fight another day." LOL. 

    Other things to look out for: work out in environments that set you up for breathing success. If you react to chlorine, swimming in a heavily chlorinated gym pool may not be a great idea. Same with working out in a dusty basement, or anywhere that the temp is on the lower side. Maybe these all sound like common sense but I've had to learn all of these lessons the hard way!! I also wear a scarf made of t-shirt cotton I can pull up over my mouth to breathe warm/humid air during cooler temperature workouts. It helps a lot.

    Lastly, I don't beat myself up or judge myself when I get short of breath doing something that shouldn't be hard, like walking up a flight of stairs. Even if you can't completely control asthma, you can be smart about working with it it and shift your perspective. And that helps it feel like less of a burden.

    Wishing you the best as you figure things out!

  • Kathy P

    Hi @Emza - how are things going? Are things any better or worse w/ the spring weather changes?