Diagnosed with Asthma

Updated on October 21, 2008
G.B. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
19 answers

I was diagnosed with Asthma over the past couple of weeks and am at a loss as how to deal with this. I have Anxiety problems and taking new medication is a big trigger for me. Also the not being able to breathe is a big one too. I am using Albuterol in a Nebulizer up to every 4 hours day and night and am still having problems with closing up. This started with Bronchitis about 4 weeks ago. On each visit to the ER I have had breathing treatments and then Steroid shots. I also took oral steroids for 5 days and they seemed to help a lot. Now the Dr. wants me to use Symbicort. I need advice on this medication and what others do to deal with this disease.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I am not real familiar with asthma myself. But my husband has delt with it his entire life. He uses a preventive inhaler called Adviar and It absolutly keeps his undercontrol. He basically lives a normal life, because of this wonderful drug. It is expensive though and if you don't have good prescription coverage it can be difficult to renew each month.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Gina, you have already had 13 responses to your letter by the time I am writing this to you, but I hope you will read this and I hope it will help. Some of your current responses are good, some are not so good...but I will try to clear up some things. I am a respiratory therapist who is getting certified as an asthma educator. First of all, Symbicort is what we call a controller or a preventive medication. It is actually a combination of two kinds of medicines. The first is called budesonide (brand name: Pulmicort, which is an inhaled corticosteroid. The second is called formoterol (brand name: Foradil), which is a long acting bronchodilator. So what does that mean? The corticosteroid is an anti-inflammatory (also known as an anti- asthmatic) medication that is targeted to act only in the lungs. It has very few systemic affects, which means that it does not affect the heart or other organs in the body. Because it has "steroid" in it's name, people get all worried about it, but it is not an anabolic steroid. It does not cause weight gain, bulking, or any of the other bad things that anabolic steroids can. Like I said, it targets the lungs and works to decrease inflammation in the airways. The bronchodilator works to relax the smoothe muscles that surround the airways, which causes them to dilate (open up) and allows for better airflow to occur. This helps decrease the dyspnea (shortness of breath) associated with asthma. As I said, Symbicort is a controller medication, which means it works to keep your asthma under control. It does take a few weeks, usually two, to begin to feel the effects of the medication, and you do have to continue to use it even if you feel good. It keeps you feeling good, keeps the exacerbations away. Also, you DO have to rinse or gargle after taking the medicine, in order to keep your mouth and throat from getting a "thrush-like" side affect. Now, let's talk about asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease, which means that it never goes completely away, although some people are very well controlled even with a minimum of medications. The importance of this fact is...don't be fooled into thinking that you can cure asthma and never have to deal with it again. Even if you have not had an exacerbation (asthma attack or episode) for years, an asthmatic should always be prepared in case something causes them to have problems. That means you should always have a "rescue" medication with you. The Albuterol nebulizer treatments that you are taking are an example of a rescue medication. Albuterol is a short acting bronchodilator. So what is the difference between that and the long acting bronchodilator in the Symbicort? One is long acting, and the other is short acting. Great, that helps a lot. OK, this is a better explanation. The long acting bronchodilator works slowly, but for a longer period of time (12 to 24 hours) to open up the airways. The short acting bronchodilator works very quickly (within minutes) to open the airways, but it only lasts for about 3 to 4 hours, so it has to be taken again if the dyspnea comes back. That is why it is called a rescue medication, because it will work quickly to get you breathing better again. So, I kinda got sidetracked again. Back to what asthma is. People who have asthma have airways that are hyper-responsive to some "trigger" or "triggers" which then causes inflammation, mucosal swelling, broncho-constriction and increased mucus production in the lungs. All these things work together to make it harder for air to move into and (especially) out of the lungs. This can cause air-trapping and eventually reduces oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange to occur. Which can lead to respiratory distress and even respiratory arrest. Approximately 5000 people die every year from asthma...it is not something to mess around with. So why does this happen. Well, most people believe it is an allergic response. Not everyone who has allergies has asthma, but EVERYONE who has asthma has allergies. These allergies are sometimes called "triggers". Hey, didn't I mention that word before? Triggers are anything that causes you to have an asthma attack. Common triggers are things like pollen, weeds, mold, dust, pet dander, SMOKING and strong fumes. So if you smoke, or people around you smoke, it needs to stop! The sooner the better. But there are some other triggers that are not as well known, such as cockroaches, mice, cold weather, hot humid weather, smog, exercise, aspirin, and strong emotions. Huh? Yes, strong emotions, like crying real hard, laughing real hard, stress, and worrying...(anxiety). Wow! That is a problem. And you say aspirin and exercise are on that list also? Yep, if you are sensitive to aspirin or any other of the NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). And exercise can be a trigger, but there are simple steps that can be taken to allow the asthmatic to exercise without problems. Oh yeah, did I mention upper respiratory infections can also be triggers? Things like...bronchitis. So what should you do. I feel that education is the best way to fight the feelings of helplessness that you might have right now. That is why I have written you a book tonight. Start like this. Keep a diary to try and figure out what your triggers are, you probably have more than one. Once you know what causes you problems, then you can try to avoid or reduce exposure to these triggers so that you don't have an attack. Talk to your doctor to see if they can recommend an asthma education program for you to use. They can tell you many ways to help remove or reduce allergens in your home and work place. If you and your doctor determine that pollens and animal danders cause you problems, you can see if Singulair or some other allergy remedies are helpful. Take your Symbicort as prescribed, and make sure you have an Albuterol inhaler with you at all times. Use it correctly and don't over use it. If you are having to use it too much, go see the doctor or go to the emergency room, because you may need to get some oral or IV steroids to get you over the exacerbation. Or you may just have to step up the regimine you are currently on for a while. Educate yourself. Go to www.lungusa.com or look up the American Lung Association website for good information about asthma. One other thing that I didn't mention before. If you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, that can also trigger asthma problems. If you are aware of this being a problem for you, then you should talk to your doctor to about getting a prescription for that condition also. It will help keep the asthma problems down. Basically you should talk to your doctor about things you can do to keep your asthma from limiting your activities, because if you are feeling upset about being unable to do the things you want to do, then you are just going to have more problems from the asthma and the anxiety. It will become a viscious cycle. See if he or she can give you an "asthma action plan". This is a step by step plan to follow to let you know when to step up medications, and when to go to the doctor or the emergency room. Asthma is not the end of the world as you know it. It can be well controlled and you can live a mostly normal life. I hope that you will get some benefit from the info I have given you. I hope that you will educate youself and take contro of your asthma, and I hope you have a great life. If you want more info you can call me at ###-###-#### tues thru friday from 6:30 am til 4:00 pm. I will be happy to help you more if I can. Thanks for reading this. D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Ask that your doctor prescribe you a nebulizer to give yourself treatments at home. Also between inhaler use, try steam. There is also an Aerolizer called foradil (formoterol fumarate inhalation powder). Ask your doctor about that as well. I too have asthma, and those are some of the things that have helped me.



answers from Fayetteville on

I have been diagnosed with asthma now for about 12 years. I take Advair to help control mine and it works great! It will take a couple of weeks after you begin taking a preventive med for you to begin to notice the difference. Hang in there! It does get better!



answers from Oklahoma City on

Your diet could be your biggest trigger - specifically MSG. My whole family suffered from allergy problems. My youngest was the worst, she was on several meds that didnt work, and an Albuterol inhaler. I was using an inhaler too, which made my anxiety attacks even worse. SInce I switched to a whole (additive-free) foods diet, we have all been much healthier. My daughter and I are off all of our meds, and havent been sick in years. I even found it easier to lose the weight that I put on thru chemotherapy (I'm a cancer survivor). Here are few links that help explain the problems and prevailence of added ingredients. If you would like any tips or ideas on how to avoid this without starving yourself, just let me know. You should see real results within 3 weeks.
I hope this helps :}



answers from Texarkana on

I have had asthma all my life when I was a child they didn't know what it was I guess but when I was 20 and 4 months a long with my first child my doctor found out the hard way a had asthma and had another attack at 6 months he though he was going to lose me but that didn't happen, but I will tell you I take Spriva and Advair but you have to rinse you mouth out after it cause it is a steriod Spriva isn't I also take theophylline but you need to go to a doctor that specialzed in that area if you smoke STOP and don't be around people that do asthma can be treated and kept under control you also need to find out if you are urglic to anything I also take Singilar for that but you mostly need to take control of your problem also try not to take to many steroids both oral and shots cause they do damage too you need to go see a doctor that is a specalist in this area good luck I also have copd emphzema and hay fever and I am 66 years old so you can live a long time if you learn what triggers it and control it I don't know much about symbicort but I think it is like Advair you take it twice a day morning and night and you have to rinse out your mouth cause it is a steroid also I can't exercise but if you can do it cause that does help just don't do real hard ones just walk like around a track



answers from Pine Bluff on

Hey Gina, i've been dealing with this stuff for about 18 years now. I can't help with the anxiety issues but as far as the asthma and Symbicort i can. I have been on Symbicort for about a year now, i have a "rescue" inhaler in the event that i need it but haven't. The symbicort works, i use it morning and evening. My asthma is allergy induced so i take allergy shots every 2 weeks as well....my main allergy is dust mites and those are really hard to get away from. All of my "stuff" is under control at this point. Once you've delt with this a while you will be able to tell when you're getting to a place of concern with your breathing. You call the dr and tell him what's going on, get the meds, take them and go on with your life.....Gina, it's just one of those things that comes "with our age". Sorry, it's true, i just turned 50.....try not to get anxious, just do what you have to do and enjoy life...it'll be ok....R :o}



answers from Monroe on

I'm not certain I would go straight to symbicort...I would personally see and asthma and allergy specialist or pulmonologist if you aren't already. Most GPs aren't equipped with enough medical knowledge of the disease to adequately deal with it.

Before they diagnosed me with a heart condition, I took Advair and albuterol (neither of which I can take now because they accelerate heart rate). They worked well as did having singulair (an allergy/asthma tablet to prevent symptoms).

Albuterol is only going to make you more nervous, and I really suggest that you ask about seeing a specialist and/or getting a different medicine with fewer cardiac side effects.

Running a humidifier in your room at night should help some, and many times taking zyrtec helps too and it will not interfere with the way the albuterol works.

Asthma and reactive airways diseases like it are a pill until you truely understand what's going on, and what triggers it. I was a runner and played soccer and during the middle of a long-distance race, or about 1/3 of the way through a soccer game I would have to use a rescue inhaler. Most people do fine taking an rescue inhaler prior to an activity that triggers it, I however, did not. That's why I suggest singulair at night, zyrtec in the morning and Advair once or twice a day to PREVENT, and then the albuterol to control it only if you can't breathe. There are plenty of drugs out there that work for this. I used to take Proventil (an inhaled steroid--I would think similar to symbicort) and a rescue inhaler called max-air when I was in junior high before the advair came out.

It's simply trial and error and a specialist almost always helps.

send me a personal message if you like, I've done lots of research, but I'm no expert, just have real-life exp to go on.




answers from Lake Charles on

The breathing treatments are good,but not so if you already have anxiety. They tend to really hype some people up. I also had a huge case of Bronchitis about 2 years ago. Then they said I had asthma after I had shortness of breath. My doctor put me on singular, and I have not had any trouble since. He also says now, I do not have asthma. As long as the singular works,I take it. There are no substitutes or generic drugs for this medication. You take it in the morning or at bedtime. I prefer morning. Ask your doctor about this medicine and maybe get a second opinion.

Good Luck
S. Miller



answers from Jackson on

Good Morning Gina,
Please be careful as to what you use or take for your asthma..I had taken steriods for penumonia and it vaused my heart to beat lower than the other side...I will not take any more steriod shots or pill....Steriods will cause heart problems...I don't have asthma but I symphize with you...




answers from Enid on

Gina, before I committed to the drug treatment route - be sure to ask for a sleep study. I suffered with asthma for years & years, ie: bronchitis, and constantly using inhalers etc. etc. I too also had panic and anxiety attacks. In an unrelated medical issue in which I had to go through a sleep study it was discovered I had sleep apnea and I was put on a C-Pap machine. Almost immediately upon starting to sleep with the machine my asthma cleared up. I have not used an inhaler, a steroid, had an attack, had bronchitis, or anxiety, or panic attacks or anything!!!!! For 8 years now!!!! I am now 50. And I don't think doctors even relate the asthma with the apnea, or maybe I was just that odd of a case. Just my two cents.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Advair changed my life! It is a prescription powder inhalent (not technically an inhaler). It must be a secondary drug, which means a doctor should only prescribe it when you're on something else. In my case I use singulair with it. I've had asthma for years and now my oldest daughter has it pretty bad, too. She uses a children's dose of chewable singular and a low dose of flovent. Hope this helps!



answers from Jonesboro on

I have had asthma for 20 years now (diagnosed) that we know of and probably all my life that we didn't know. It wasn't until after my son was born that a doctor finally diagnosed me. I have been taking Symbicort now for 8 months and it has been a lifesaver. It takes a while for the results to show and you have to be religious about using it. I also have to take claritin in the morning and singulair at night but since doing this I have only had one flare up. My fault, we took the kids on a trip to the pumpkin patch and I rode in a hay wagon with them.

Give it time it will work for you. By the way I also take Prozac and blood pressure medicine.

Good luck.




answers from Fayetteville on

I feel for you. I had to use a very low dose of steroids for only a few days, to reduce swelling in my tonsils. Even though it was long after my anxiety disorder was well in hand, it was difficult to manage the anxiety-producing effects of taking steroids.

My mother is a nutritionist and has been teaching classes for years on how to minimize the symptoms of asthma. If you're interested, I can mail you some information she sent me. You can xerox it and mail it back. (It's free, etc. It's just information on how to do the cleanse.)

I'll be up-front about this. It takes a lot of commitment on your part. The approach is, you do a 6-8-week body cleanse, eating only natural, unprocessed whole foods. No meat/fish, dairy, eggs, refined sugar, wheat, or caffeine. (The key is to be well prepared, with some recipes and snacks that are free of these ingredients.) But completing this regimen works. My aunt, whose asthma was so severe that she nearly died from an attack about 20 years ago, has done this body cleanse every few years and, as a result, her symptoms have been minimal. I don't think she even takes medication for it anymore. The thing is, ridding your body of triggers for a good 6-8-week period, kind of resets you. You can go back to eating however you like after that, though it's obviously better to keep it healthy, and for years you feel the difference.

Let me know if you're interested. In the meantime, start taking bromelain on an empty stomach. It's pineapple enzymes. If there's food in your digestive tract, the enzymes will go to work helping digest it, but what you want it to do is get to work on that inflammation, which is its second talent.

Also, you MUST minimize your sugar intake, and reduce whatever else of the above-mentioneds you find easiest to start with. Don't just cut things out of your life, though. Replace them with substitutes that you find enjoyable. I knew my sweet tooth wasn't good for me. So I started replacing some sweets with herbal teas, which I sweetened with stevia, a non-chemical, plant-based, healthy sweetener (KAL brand is the best of the brands I've tried). The reason is, these things - sugar, meat, dairy, etc. - contribute to inflammation and, on top of that, in the case of dairy and eggs (and too much soy, by the way), mucus production in the body. By cutting out the things that cause inflammation, you should start to feel some relief soon. Soon you can reduce the amounts of these drugs you have been taking. After a while, you might not need to take them at all.


PS keep away from dust and chemical household cleaners. Don't be the one to remove the lint from the dryer if you can avoid it! Or wear a dust mask for the task if you can't.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

This ia just a thought, but since you know taking new meds triggers your anxiety, you might want to schedule a visit with a counselor to help you through a tough time. They might have some relaxation techniques for you. Also, I have had some undiagnosed breathing problems in the past, and I have found 2 things that totally take away my problem...singing in a choir and tai chi. The singing forces you to breathe deeply and exercises your diaphragm (the breathing muscle) and the tai chi is technically a martial art, but it's very relaxing and focuses on deep breathing. There's no punching or kicking or anything like that...it's more like a slow relaxing dance. You can buy a home DVD very cheaply or look for a class in your community.



answers from New Orleans on

You may have developed some sort of post-infection problem with airway reactivity - basically like asthma - hard to tell if this will resolve over time or be a chronic issue for you (you probably won't know until time passes- in the meantime, you ought to be on some kind of inhaled steroid (hence the symbicort) since asthma treatment should be about preventing the bronchospasm and airway inflammation and not just treating the symtpoms when they happen - in general steroids orally are not a great option long term given side effects and you would rather be on a smaller dose inhaled as opposed to repeated ER visits - also, frequent use of the albuterol will make you anxious and shaky just given how it works - ideally you want to get on the inhaled steroids for a while (or maybe some kind of combination inhaler) and this should help your albuterol need decrease - you should try to see your primary care doctor frequently and ask about a peak flow meter as this can help you judge your symptoms objectively - and stay away from tobacco smoke at all costs - good luck



answers from Decatur on

I used to have asthma and then in the spring and fall I would get a infection. My was all triggered by my allergies. My suggestion is to go the health store and get a herb it begins with a L not sure of name and it is great. Also, start taking alot of Vitamin C w/ Rose Hips. If you can get off of steriods and the other prescriptions you will start to improve. The steriods weaken your immune system and it is a quick fix but it is a cycle of temporarily getting well and then sick. The company that I am affiliated with has great multi-vitamins w/ super foods called the Hybrids and a vitamin that is called Resist that is great for allergies, blood pressure, skin, etc. I hope this helps ck out my web at www.successfromtheheart.myarbonne.com or call me at ###-###-####. K.



answers from Oklahoma City on

hi gina,
i am 47 grandma of eight. i was born with an ashma attack. anyway, the last five years i have taken advair. and i tell you that is a big help. better then those other inhalers. also when you are having difficulties breathing, dont let your self get stressed up about it;. relax and i wont take such a toll out on you. good luck with your health. C.



answers from Tulsa on

I've done a lot of research on asthma, and many times, symptoms can be lessened and even controlled once household toxins are removed from your home. Even cleaning, laundry and bath and body products could be triggering worse symptoms than you need to deal with.

I work with a major international company that has safe, effective all natural household products. I do NOT sell them - I simply refer people to the company and then you would shop from them if you so choose. I'd be happy to help you begin your research - but since I've saved money by shopping with them for my everyday necessities, rather than at WalMart, it's a place to start! I'd love to help you - feel free to contact me anytime through my website at www.healthyhome4family.com

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