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Asthma?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi guys I just have a question for those of you with asthma or who have experience with it. How is it diagnosed? For several months, I've had issues with "wheezy" sounding breathing, especially at night. Occasionally, this is accompanied with a coughing fit. Once or twice, it's happened after I've worked out at the gym.


I never feel as though I can't breathe, which is what I've always thought asthma was, but Jess has it, and she thinks that I do, too.

I've always had allergies, but never was diagnosed with asthma. Jess can't remember how she was diagnosed, as she was very young, so I was just curious. Does this sound like asthma, and what do they do to diagnose it? I have an appointment for a physical next month, and I plan to talk to my doctor about it then.
post #2 of 24
It sounds like Asthma.
They listen to your lungs to diagnose it.
I have had it for a long time.
Sometimes you just cough from asthma.
Sometimes you can not breathe.
It really depends.
I almost died from Asthma when it was real bad in 1987.
I started going to the Allergy department after I found out it was Asthma.
My Asthma is worse at night.
I know alot I have had it for about 28 years.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mews2much View Post
It sounds like Asthma.
They listen to your lungs to diagnose it.
I have had it for a long time.
Sometimes you just cough from asthma.
Sometimes you can not breathe.
It really depends.
I almost died from Asthma when it was real bad in 1987.
I started going to the Allergy department after I found out it was Asthma.
My Asthma is worse at night.
I know alot I have had it for about 28 years.


Thank you. Can they tell by listening to your lungs even if you aren't having symptoms at the time? Sorry if it sounds like a stupid question; I really don't know anything about it!
post #4 of 24
They can hear wheezing if you have slight symptoms.
I got xrays after that and it confirmed Asthma.
I have 2 inalers for my Asthma Qvar and Albuteraul.
post #5 of 24
I've developed asthma and allergies these last few years (triggered by cold, which is great seeing as how it's cold here, oh 8 months of the year). It took the doctor the longest time to diagnose. I was weezing and outright coughing a lot, but never really got to the point of not being able to breath. They did a chest xray, gave me anti biotics, and treated me for a lot of different things, until a new doctor was like, have you been tested for asthma?

They gave me this little plastic tube to breath into that was hooked up to the computer. It analyzed the airflow through my lungs and some other things I couldn't remember. Low and behold, it was asthma. If you have asthma, your lungs will be messed up even if you're not weezing at that exact moment, so if they test you for it, they should be able to detect it.
post #6 of 24
I developed allergies as an adult, and then about 10 years later was diagnosed with asthma. That's exactly what the symptoms were like.

I went to an allergist - they're also generally the people who specialize in asthma as apparently the two are often related. I had the same test rahma did. The older I get, the more problems I seem to have, and I do have trouble breathing sometimes, so it's been nice to have that inhaler. I do take Advair twice a day, and for a long time that stopped all the symptoms altogether.

Good luck! Since it doesn't seem very advanced, it should be easy to manage. But you'll feel MUCH better (and sleep better) with a proper diagnosis and meds!

Laurie
post #7 of 24
Sounds like asthma to me. Allergies and asthma both are just your immune system overreacting to environment, and many people have both. I do.

I have had very severe asthma most of my life. It got better at the beginning of college, got worse again.

Common triggers are being worse at night (check), exercise (check-- and it's usually afterwards rather than during for me too). You might notice it worsening just before your monthly too, hormones seem to sneakily have something to do with it. The coughing is just a symptom; your lungs think there is something in them to cough up.

Most doctors can tell just by your symptoms, but they'll listen to your lungs too. There is also a 'peak flow meter' where you breathe out as hard as you can, and it measures air flow kinda like when you bang the hammer at the carnival and win a prize if the little weight goes high enough up the scale.

I have used albuterol sulfate, cromolyn sodium, Advair, and Singulair. Had to stop taking the Advair because I couldn't afford the co-pay (50$!!!) but it worked great-- yours isn't bad enough to warrant steroids.

Probably they will just give you a prescription for an inhaler of albuterol sulfate. Cheap, effective, few serious side effects. I always prefer to have an actual nebulizer (an air pump machine that turns the liquid medicine into a mist and then you breathe in the mist) but if your asthma isn't bad it might not be worth it.

It's no big deal-- won't keep you from doing anything that you want to do.

When asthma is bad enough to actually keep you from breathing, it's very bad. Only happened to me three or four times when I was a kid.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
Most doctors can tell just by your symptoms, but they'll listen to your lungs too. There is also a 'peak flow meter' where you breathe out as hard as you can, and it measures air flow kinda like when you bang the hammer at the carnival and win a prize if the little weight goes high enough up the scale.
That's what the little thing hooked up to the computer is called

Quote:
I have used albuterol sulfate, cromolyn sodium, Advair, and Singulair. Had to stop taking the Advair because I couldn't afford the co-pay (50$!!!) but it worked great-- yours isn't bad enough to warrant steroids.

Probably they will just give you a prescription for an inhaler of albuterol sulfate. Cheap, effective, few serious side effects. I always prefer to have an actual nebulizer (an air pump machine that turns the liquid medicine into a mist and then you breathe in the mist) but if your asthma isn't bad it might not be worth it.

I forgot the first everyday inhaler I was on, but it was uber expensive. I think it originally started out at $100, and then the manufacturer stuck a little counter on it, and jacked the price up to $150 I couldn't afford it, so I printed out the list of generics available for cheaper at Target and Walgreens from their website, took them into my doctor and asked her to pick something from the list. Even if they're not quite as good, I figured it was better then nothing, cuz there was no way I could swing $150 a month for an inhaler.

http://sites.target.com/site/en/heal...eric_drugs.jsp
https://webapp.walgreens.com/MYWCARD...nericsList.pdf
post #9 of 24
I've had shortness of breath problems for years - never very major, but always enough to be uncomfortable and very annoying. They tested me by spirometry (the breathing test to see how much lunch capacity you have among other things), saw that I was below average, and assumed that I had asthma. The doctor put me on albuterol as needed, and as the years went by Flovent and briefly Advair were added to the mix.

Earlier this spring, I got myself an appointment with an allergen/asthma specialist to get tested for allergies. While I was there, we talked a little bit about my breathing problems, and they tested me by spirometry again. The PA said that it looked like my asthma was under control, and I asked him if the test showed that I even needed the medications, because I was still having some problems that medication wasn't helping with. I told him that I had never officially been diagnosed with asthma, and he said it was probably a good idea to do so.

One diagnostic test for asthma is a methylcholine challenge. Methylcholine is an irritant to your lungs - people with asthma usually respond at lower doses than people without. They give you four doses, from low to high, and measure your breathing after each one.

It turns out that I didn't have asthma after all, just a touch of "reactive airway disease" - I'm a little more sensitive than most people, but I don't actually have asthma. But I still had problems with shortness of breath, coughing, etc. They tried me out on a medication, and lo and behold, it worked.

The medication? A heartburn drug! Why? There is a condition called vocal cord dysfunction, or VCD, for short. In asthma, the bronchioles of the lungs close up, making it hard to breathe. In VCD, its the vocal cords that close, but it results in the same general symptoms. VCD isn't usually helped by asthma drugs, which is why my symptoms never went away. A lot of the symptoms are identical to asthma though - shortness of breath, sometimes wheezing, coughing. Some people get tightness in the throat or chest, or feel like they can't get a full breath in. A lot of the time, its brought on by reflux - even in people who don't feel like they have reflux.

My triggers, apart from reflux, are the cold, and laughing too hard . Turns out lots of people are diagnosed with asthma when they really have VCD.

Anyhow, get your doctor to give you a methylcholine test, or go to a specialist who will do one. I think that's one of the only ways to know that you really have asthma.
post #10 of 24
Hi!

Don't let asthma scare you. It is TOTALLY manageable. It sounds to me like you have what is called Sport Induced Asthma. It's where you only have asthmatic symptoms after you are involved in some sort of aerobic activity. (anything that gets your heart rate and respiratory rate up is consider aerobic)

You should deffinilty get to a dr. to be diagnosed. If you do have Sport Induced Asthma, often times they simply give you an albuterol inhailer and have you take it about 15 min before you start any areobic activity.

It's very common, and totaly treatable.

You might want to take a look at the dust and dander situation in your home too. That can worsen symptoms. With our kitties, we are super suseptable.

I have suffered from asthma ALL MY LIFE. It started as Sport Induced when I was athletic. Then I got injured and started to gain weight. My asthma has progressively gotten worse as my weight and Blood pressure have gone up.

The good news is, for me, it has gotten better as I have begun to loose weight and have controled my BP with meds. I ALWAYS have problems breathing, some days are better than others though. I am on Singular (pill), Advair (diskus) and Albuterol. Amazingly enough, the Lasix I am on for water retention is the key factor. If I forget to take that and start to swell, my breathing becomes VERY labored. Mine asthma is WAY more than you would have to go through, and mine is TOTALY managable as well.

So don't be scared. If you need any advice, I would be happy to talk to you.
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandtigress View Post

One diagnostic test for asthma is a methylcholine challenge. Methylcholine is an irritant to your lungs - people with asthma usually respond at lower doses than people without. They give you four doses, from low to high, and measure your breathing after each one.

It turns out that I didn't have asthma after all, just a touch of "reactive airway disease" - I'm a little more sensitive than most people, but I don't actually have asthma. But I still had problems with shortness of breath, coughing, etc. They tried me out on a medication, and lo and behold, it worked.

The medication? A heartburn drug! Why? There is a condition called vocal cord dysfunction, or VCD, for short. In asthma, the bronchioles of the lungs close up, making it hard to breathe. In VCD, its the vocal cords that close, but it results in the same general symptoms. VCD isn't usually helped by asthma drugs, which is why my symptoms never went away. A lot of the symptoms are identical to asthma though - shortness of breath, sometimes wheezing, coughing. Some people get tightness in the throat or chest, or feel like they can't get a full breath in. A lot of the time, its brought on by reflux - even in people who don't feel like they have reflux.

My triggers, apart from reflux, are the cold, and laughing too hard . Turns out lots of people are diagnosed with asthma when they really have VCD.

Anyhow, get your doctor to give you a methylcholine test, or go to a specialist who will do one. I think that's one of the only ways to know that you really have asthma.
That's really interesting to note, especially since laughing too hard can also set me off. I'll definitely ask my doctor for the methylcholine test. Thank you for the information.
post #12 of 24
You're welcome. Some other things to note with mine - I never noticed it until the doctor asked, but I have always had a very mild, constant throat clearing that he says is part of the reflux problem. Also, when I get a bad cough, it often turns into uncontrollable coughing fits - probably because of the VCD. When mine gets set off by cold or laughing though, it usually turns into a short coughing fit, with lots of mucus (hopefully not TMI :p).

I try to get the info about VCD out, because a lot of people get misdiagnosed, and go through steroid treatments for years - its not good for you if you're healthy, though I know I would rather deal with the side-effects of the steroids than with asthma if I had it. I was lucky enough to have a doctor who worked at a place where they discovered a lot of info on VCD, so he recognizes it when he sees it.
post #13 of 24
IN a bit of a hurry so I didn't thoroughly read this thread but thought I'd give my input.

I was diagnosed with Asthma as a baby. It was very bad too. One week out of every month I was hospitalized in an oxygen tent due to the severity. Then, if I had a spontaneous attack They'd rush me to the E.R. for epinephrine and sussphren shots (adrenaline). I probably spelled those two wrong. basically what it did was open the passage ways by exciting my body. not sure how else to say it. but getting straigh shots of adrenaline is amazing. I'd go in feeling awful and not being able to breath well at all. Then the moment they gave me the shot I was 100% better instantly. Course I had to stay to make sure i was ok, but I could be having the worst attack I've ever had and a shot would have me back to normal inside of 30 seconds it seems like.

I also had to go through a myriad of inhalers. back then they didn't have the stuff they have now, i had to use this thing that you put a capsule in, and when you closed the lid it punctured the capsule. Then by inhaling it drove a little fan that literally sprayed the medicine down my throat. NOw, if you have ever had asthma you know that almost ANY foreign substance will launch it.... anyway.

I grew out of it. I was allergic to everything and the asthma attacks so bad, if I even laughed too hard it would give me an attack. I was allergic most severely to animal dander. Dogs etc. Cats were the worst. I was also allergic to grass, dust, peanut butter etc. almost everything. The doctor tells me now that I likely grew out of my allergic reaction to animals simply because 1. I grew out of the asthma itself, and 2. By living with the animal (had dogs, inside dogs) my body learned to deal with it.

Same thing with cats. When I first get them if i haven't had them for a long time I'll wheeze, sometimes getting bad for the first week or so. then it calms down. now It doesn't phase me at all. I can stick my face in my cat's fur and inhale and nothing happens. Whereas before it would have been straight to the hospital.

Suffice to say if you are having an asthma attack, unless it's very mild, you will notice immediate trouble breathing. It might now seem like you are in trouble, but you'll notice you can't get that last bit of breath out. I was told that the problem most times wasn't getting air in, it was getting air out. no clue about that, and it doesn't matter really .

One thing I do now, because if I stress too bad I get mild attacks. nothing i need medicine or hospitalization for, but beathing becomes labored for sure. I'll drink a very strong cup of coffee and most times that fixes it. Seems the caffeine does the same thing the adrenaline shots do. though i'm sure on a much lower level.

I've learned how to avoid attacks, and squash them early when they come. It's not hard to live at all, it just takes a little extra thinking.

If you've been diagnosed with it don't get too worried, it'll be ok and you won't have to get rid of your cats. At least I didn't. but i'm sure some people get it much worse towards animal dander.

Oh yea, the scratch tests they gave me SUCKED. the put this huge platter on my back. it's got bunches of little razors in it. each one breaks the skin and scratches me. Then they apply tiny bits of different substances to determine what you're allergic to. lovely
post #14 of 24
I'm actually a certified asthma educator. I took a course before I went off work, not only to learn more about my own condition, but also ways to educate people about theirs and how to effectively use their medication.

Diagnosis is complex and takes into consideration not only physical findings but also history of your symptoms as well as family history.

Someone with asthma or eczema are likely to have someone in their family who has the same.

Your doctor will listen to your chest to find out if you have any wheezing. Air should be moving through your lungs easily and with a distinct sound. If there is a whistling sound, gurgling, bubbling or anything else, that means there is a problem. For Asthma it's usually wheezing that they will hear because Asthma causes constriction of the airways which means the air going into and out of lungs is leaving via smaller openings than intended.

The doctor will also order a chest xray to see how the air is being distributed throughout your lungs. They also may order allergy testing because allergies often trigger Asthma.

So far as history goes, he/she will ask you about coughing. Things such as when? How often? Any triggers? - such as exercise, cold weather, ice water etc.

Usually the above is enough to diagnose, but sometimes they will do additional tests to check out your breathing. Tests such as Spirometry to measure your lung function. Sometimes they will add stressers like exercise or cold to the test to see how you respond.

For me I was diagnosed with Asthma based on the wheezing, my coughing (dry, hollow sounding), the fact that I have eczema and the fact that I have family history of Asthma on my Mom's side of the family and the fact that she died from Emphysema.

There is no cure for Asthma, but there are treatments for it that can allow you to live a relatively Asthma free existence so long as you take your steroid inhalers to help keep lung inflammation down.

It's also strongly advised that anyone who has Asthma get a year flu shot as well as a pneumonia shot because the lung inflammation that occurs with either can certainly wreak havoc on an Asthmatic's lungs making it doubly worse for them.
post #15 of 24
I cannot remember how I was diagnosed. I know that I have had it since I was about 10. My mom and sister have severe asthma and my dad has a mild case. Mine has gotten MUCH worse as I get older-especially in the summer. I was on Advair but it is so expensive even with my insurance. I do have albuterol and Qvar that I take as needed though. It isn't too bad in the winter unless I go workout.

Good luck! Don't let asthma scare you though. It is very managable and very common
post #16 of 24
I would not be scared.
I did almost die from it once but that was years ago.
They had a hard time finding meds that helped.
I have not had to go to the Er since I changed to the meds I am on now.
It has been over 10 years since I changed meds.
post #17 of 24
Sandtigress - Your information is very interesting. I know I have GERD, maybe even LPR and I occasionally have weird episodes that resemble my DH's asthma attacks (feels like something cuts off my air). Cold air is tough on me, I'm prone to bronchial infections, and am constantly congested to a degree. I'm as sensitive to things as he is - smoke, scented stuff, perfumes. I cough often.. laughing (more than a short laugh) will cause a coughing fit. I blame all my shortness of breath on tachycardia - so lets hope nothing ever requires me to use a rescue inhaler, that would put me in the ER.

Of course those weird episodes I have could be related to the fact that respiratory is controlled by the autonomic nervous system.

I don't know how I would respond to a spirometry test. My autonomic nervous system is not normal so the act of blowing into something like that for so many seconds at a certain pressure causes near syncope (I'll lose my vision and hearing for 30-60+ seconds, and become extremely lightheaded). I'd probably fail it just because that's abnormal. I have problems sucking in air too - after my surgery and while I was too drugged up to feel any soreness, I could barely reach "good" on whatever that thing is they have you suck air through. Before I was discharged was no better - and it made me very lightheaded.


kaete - I hope you can get in and get this tested soon. If it truly is asthma, the longer it goes untreated the more damage can be done.
post #18 of 24
I was diagnosed as athmatic several years ago, but the itt disappeared.

Everybodys experiences are very different, thats important. My problem is allergies, sometimes causing asthma, but those darn inhalers make me so jumpy and twitchy.

My fiance is severly asthmatic and all I can say is: if you are diagnosed as asthmatic please take it seriously. no matter how you feel about it, the meds need to be continouse to work. it is nothing to be too worried about if managed properly.

excerise in moderation can help strengtthen your lungs (at least for me). I actually thought I was dying or had severe bronchitis or something years ago for along time before diagnosed...turned out to be asthma; it is a strange medical thing.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meowers View Post
My problem is allergies, sometimes causing asthma, but those darn inhalers make me so jumpy and twitchy.
Rescue inhalers are beta-adrenergic agonist - in other words they can make your heart rate increase. If you're already a bit sensitive to adrenaline, an inhaler would affect you this way.

I'm sensitive to it - enough so that it could probably send my heart rate up close to 200bpm if I was not medicated to prevent that (which I'm not).
post #20 of 24
I hate the albuteral because it does that to me and gives me headaches.
My Asthma is acting up again today again.
i have not had skin tests since 1987 and think I am allergic to alot more here.
post #21 of 24
^Do you take anything other than an inhaler? The other meds commonly used to treat asthma - steroid inhalers, singular, and allergies meds like allegra could probably really help. You must tell your doctor that your rescue inhaler bothers you. For some prone to tachycardia or other arrhythmias they can be a bit dangerous and an alternative should be found if there is one.
post #22 of 24
Both my father and sister were born with asthma. It sounds like what you have (according to your description). Once you are disgnosed, they will do testing to see what triggers your episodes. With my dad, it is dust, cats and birds; my sister's triggers are birds (this is a major one), dogs and cats.
post #23 of 24
I was diagnosed with Asthma at the age of 2, and I've had it ever since. It seems to have gotten milder each year, as so far I haven't had to use my inhaler at night time (the worst time that I get wheezy!)

I'm hoping now that it is a sign of improvement.
post #24 of 24
DH was diagnosed at age 8. When I met him around 8 years ago he was only using an albuteral inhaler. His asthma was not under control and I could easily see and hear that. I harassed him into going to a better doctor who basically backed up what I already knew - he needed better treatment to prevent scaring.

Please, everyone, make sure you're getting thorough treatment for your asthma. Don't put off going to the doctor for check ups or asking your doctor questions.
...Which reminds me, DH's due for a check up and needs to asks about some blood tests..
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