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Venting about my asthma problems…Looking for advice?

Hello. I've been experiencing really bad asthma since mid-March. It actually started last February, but it has gotten significantly worse these past few months. My asthma has never been too bad. I'd have to do a few puffs when I'd wake up in the morning and then I'd be good for the rest of the day. I know that's not an ideal situation, but it was manageable and the asthma symptoms were very mild. Showers are also a trigger. October of 2017 my mom and I moved into a new house. It's a new construction house and it's built in a little neighborhood in a clearing. We also bought a new couch that following January. Then in February I started to have to do my inhaler in the middle of the day. I thought it was a weird flare up that would go away. It did not. I've gone through countless inhalers this past year. I think I've become immune to albuterol at this point. I have to do more and more puffs at a time(I'm currently at about 10-12 puffs at one time. I know this is not good). I went from doing my inhaler once a day to two to three times a day. Usually once when I wake up and once before I go to bed. Oh, also I switched from Proair to Proventil.

So fast forward to mid march(on a Friday) I woke up and had an asthma attack. Now, I haven't had an actual asthma attack in about ten years, so this was alarming to me. I did a bunch of puffs of my inhaler and sat on the nebulizer until it finally calmed down. I thought that would be the end of it, but I flared up again that Sunday, and it hasn't really calmed down since then. I started taking prednisone that Monday though Friday. I honestly can't tell if it did much. I guess it kept it from getting worse. I have also had problems with mucus. It felt like I had fluid in my lungs. It was really bad. I had about a half bottle of bactrim left over from an ear ache that I took. That helped a lot with the mucus, but I ran out of it just as it really started to work. The next week I started using Qvar. Now you must be wondering why I wasn't using something like this all along. Well, I made the mistake of reading the side effects and I got scared haha. Now after a few weeks the Qvar pretty much got rid of the inflammation in my airways near my throat, which is where I usually feel asthma symptoms. But now I'm having asthma it what feels like the bottom of my lungs. It will get really tight there and I struggle to take a deep breath. Oh, I forgot to add that since mid march I've had problems taking a deep breath. It feels like my chest muscles are tight and won't let me take a full breath. It will finally release after a few days, but it always comes back. I went to the doctor two of three weeks ago and got more bactrim(which I took for 7 days and then I couldn't finish because it was making me gag when I took it) ad the dr gave me flovent. I didn't think the bactrim was working, but then I had about four or five days of really good breathing. I regret not finishing them. Also I think I have a mucus plug on my right side that comes and goes. I'm not able to cough up mucus because my cough is so dry. I also can't lay down or lay forward without my asthma flaring up.

I'm sorry this is so long and all over the place. My asthma is just so all over the place. It's literally different every single day. Sometimes every hour. I haven't even been able to tell you everything. I want to go to an asthma doctor, but I don't have insurance. I can't figure out what could have caused this sudden worsening. I'm sure pollen has something to do with it, even though I've never had a problem with pollen before. I guess that doesn't matter. I wonder it there's something wrong with this house. Maybe the air vents. Last year I thought it was the new couch because I'd have to do my inhaler after sitting on it. I'm just not sure anymore. I've pretty much given up trying to figure it out. I'm emotionally exhausted from having to deal with this every day. I feel guilty using my inhaler because it's so expensive. I go through at least two a month. I can't even get a job to pay for them myself because my asthma is so bad. I thought that once the Qvar/Flovent starting working I wouldn't have to do so much of the albuterol. It's weird that it just made my asthma move to a different part of my lungs. Also when I do the nebulizer it barely ever works.

Ok. I should stop here. I'm starting to ramble. I probably shouldn't have written this at three in the morning. I'm sure the grammar is terrible. I'm sorry for that haha. If anyone has any sort of advice I'd appreciate it. Thanks to anyone who read all of this!

 

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  • Emelina

    Hi Tazza, 

    Howdy, first I’m sorry you are having a difficult time. It sounds like you’ve been really struggling! 

    A few questions: 

    – are you taking any medicine for allergies? Sometimes that can be a trigger for asthma. If you have allergies, sinus rinses can help!

    – have you had lung function testing or office spirometry done recently? That can give you a good snapshot of where you are. Perhaps you need something stronger than Flovent? 

    – do you keep a log of your asthma attacks and triggers? It is super alarming to me that you are needing so much albuterol. One thing to think about with a new house and couch is perhaps you have chemical sensitivities to VOCs. These volatile compounds outgas from stuff like glues and plastics and can irritate the lungs. 

    – do you have any problems with heart burn? That can worsen asthma and make it worse with laying down.

    – you can google the drug companies and see if you can qualify for an assistance program to help pay for your meds. Same thing with doctors offices; if you’re going through hard financial times many have financial assistance to reduce your copays.

    – please please try to avoid self treating with medications until you’ve talked to your doctor. I’m glad the Bactrim worked for you, but if it gets that bad, please reach out to your doc. He or she should see you and run tests to make sure it’s not pneumonia or something more serious and can adjust your meds accordingly.

    – do you have a peak flow meter? I have one and check daily in the morning before meds and once in the evening or with symptoms. It can be wonderful to help you gauge your response to treatment, serve as an early warning to problems and let me know how bad my attacks are and most importantly when to call my doc.

    – do you use a spacer with your albuterol and inhaled steroid? What format of Flovent do you have (dry powder or mdi). I could never master the dry powder inhalers and disks, so use the puffer hfa inhalers for my maintenance. The reason I  ask is sometimes one reason for treatment failure is the med isn’t getting to the lungs. If I don’t use a spacer, usually it gets on my tongue! 

    I hope this helps. Em

  • Breatheeasy

    Yes my asthma wasn’t a problem in the beginning. I had symptoms in my throat that’d go away when I used my albuterol. When albuterol stopped working i started using the steroid inhaler when it moved down into my lungs. It took me ages to get over that exacerbation. I used my steroid inhaler that also had a bronchodilator. It took 2 months for the inflammation to go down but came back up in about 2 months again. Then it took another two months of using another steroid inhaler to bring the inflammation down. I got off of it as soon as I gained control. I made a mistake. I should have stayed on it and used a lower dose for maintenance. 

    The point is albuterol doesn’t help me. Oral steroids help some along with steroid broncodilating inhalers. And they don’t get rid of all symptoms but help a lil bit.

  • Shea

    Tazza, lots of what you said sent up little asthma flags in my head. 

    1- New furniture/homes/construction can offgas formeldyhyde and other indoor irritants that can be big asthma triggers. For me what helps is: 1-airing out the home regukarly, 2- adding MOSO bamboo charcoal bags you can buy online help absord those gases, 3- HEPA air purifiers.

    2: Once asthma is inflamed, albuterol alone will often not solve the issue as it only opens airways up but doesnt deal with the inflammation (from chemicals or allergens) so regularly using inhaled steroids, like flovent (which usu needs to be used every morning and night regardless of symptoms but use ss your doctor prescribes), and even having one you can add to your neb like budesonide, along with your albuterol is helpful until it gets the inflammation under control. 

    3: mid-March dends up an allergy flag which asthma snd allergies often go hand in hand. I take 2 benadryl every night for my allergies. If you air out the house or are going to spend alot of time outdoors, do it toward the evening when the allergy levels are lower. Remove shoes/clothes when you come in and shower if you are outside alot from morning to late afternoon. HEPA purifier will also help with removing allergens. 

    4: doctor/meds are a priority. Breathing is a priority. Over a car, over clitges, over ANYthing. Ask for help. Find programs. Beg family. I know it is not fun to do that but your life is do worth it and we all help eachother out, we all get sick at times and need others. 

    5: coffee helps me open up — i swear– every morning my coffee helps. Just dont go overboard with it.

    6: you didnt mention this but i thought id ask, if you have a cat or dog in the home– nothing made my asthma better than not living eith pets I am allergic too– it can be a life saver. So if you have a pet and allergies to it, consider rehoming so you can get your breath back!

  • LK

    Welcome TAZZA!    

    I am so sorry your asthma is flaring up!  Sorry you are up in the middle of the night, too!  Little sleep is hard on a body.  

    Many good points already posted above.  Yes, please always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping medicines.  

    For me, when my asthma is not improving with my rescue inhaler I have to use my nebulizer, but it is very important to only use the rescue inhaler and nebulizer as prescribed.  

    I am on several maintenance medicines for my asthma as well as for my acid reflux.  Both my asthma and my reflux aggravate each other.  It can take some time to get just the right combination of meds for each that works.  Some of my asthma meds take several weeks before they show any effect.

    It is easy to be scared of the side effects of meds.  Happens to all of us at one time or another.  

    One thing that helps me in the house is having an air purifier.  The AAFA has a list online of ones that are certified.  The one I have does a great job cleaning the air in the house.  

    As far as your grammar in the wee hours of the morning is concerned, most of us here have posted in the middle of the night.  We reach out for help when it seems like it is the darkest.  Glad you found us, but sorry you had cause to find us.

    Please keep us updated on how you are doing and what you find out from your doctor!!

  • MizWheezie

    I've tried Albuterol (especially because it's much less expensive), but it only gives me relief for about an hour or so…

    I've been using the Advair 250/50 discus for years now, and while I absolutely hate the side effects (steroids, elevated blood pressure, huge increase in appetite, weight gain, etc.) it "holds" me all day (12 hours) – You might want to look into trying that – Especially since there's a "Generic" version on the market now that is waaaaay less expensive than the Glaxo-SmithKline brand.

    Also, I agree with the others that a shot of strong coffee – first thing in the morning – helps to "open me up," and make sure the new house and furniture aren't triggering these attacks – An air purifier could certainly help, as well.

    So sorry you're going thru this, but we are here for you – You are not alone. 

     

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs and welcome, Tazza … so much good advice here! I'm hoping you're getting in to see an asthma specialist — either a board-certified allergist or a pulmonologist?

    I hear you on being anxious about side-effects. But a dear friend has reminded me that when we're weighing possible side-effects of a medication, we also have to think about the definite bad effects of untreated disease. 

    Another good tip was to use something called BRAND to help me talk through meds and procedures with my doc.

    B – Benefits - What are the benefits of the drug or procedure? How soon will I be able to see those benefits?

    R – Risks – What are the risks? In a movie theater filled with 100 people JUST like me, how many of them would experience those risks?

    A – Alternatives - What are other things that we could do? Why aren't these alternatives your first choice?

    N – Nothing - What happens if we decide to wait and watch for a while? How long should I wait and watch if I decide to do that?

    D – Decision - This is the decision we come to, a joint one between me, my family and my doc

    Another suggestion … could you sign up and take the class? It's a self-paced free online course and VERY helpful!

    Mostly, though, please know you are definitely NOT alone! We've been there and we totally get how a change in asthma can really frustrate and frighten a person.

  • Melissa G

    Hi and Welcome to the AAFA forums @tazza! 

    You have been given a lot of advice and recommendations. 

    How are you feeling today?