My question is: when do I know I should take ventolin? This may sound odd, but perhaps less so with my story below.
Now in my sixties I was diagnosed in the last couple of years. I had noticed myself wheezing intermittently and briefly, and then For a period found it hard to breathe out on excercise. So after some thought, and my daughter occasionally offering me her inhaler based on her observations of me, and a doctor friend also occasionally noticing my occasional wheezing, I was diagnosed. However, I still blamed myself as unfit when I got breathless and wheezy going up hills. Increasing excercise to get more fit never helped. It never occurred to me to use an inhaler except if I had a bit of a throat infection - and those I seemed to get all the time even though it rarely developed into a cold.
So, come this year, I acquired a local, nasty virus which attacked chests. Lots and lots of coughing. I managed to half ignore that and carry on - or limp on - as usual, even though with reduced activities. However, after a month I really got quite ill, and could no longer ignore it. I finally went to the doctors and got antibiotics quickly, two lots. Also a lot of encouragement to increase my use of beclomethasone (Clenil Modulite). I was exhausted and unable to do much at all. My husband behaved like a cross, anxious and very bossy mother hen (cross because I had half neglected myself before, so half brought it on myself). My friend, the doctor, read me the riot act, and said in no uncertain terms that I had uncontrolled asthma. She, and others noticed my laboured breathing, and my inability to speak a whole sentence without needing to breathe. I didn't. I had habituated to having asthma. Apparently it can happen.
So, now that I have learned the hard way, but still unsure of my bodily sensations and how to interpret them (I no longer trust myself to adequately recognise asthma symptoms in myself), I have brought out the old peak-flow and use it daily and I record. I have no idea yet what my 'normal' peak flow should be, as I am still recovering.
The stupid thing is that not only did my father die young from status asthmaticus, but our daughter has had asthma, diagnosed when she was five, and I was always the main carer. I was well versed with becotide, ventolin, peak flow meters, theophylline, collapsed lobe in the lung (yes, that happened) and so on. Yet, as a carer of myself I have a lot to learn. I now also suspect that I have always had mild asthma, based on the fact that I cough for a hobby and have always done. It was never diagnosed, except a bit once after flu, but then my childhood was a long time ago and things were different then.
So, back to my question: if I am due to walk up a hill I now do take ventolin. Likewise if I do anything that I know brings on coughing fits. And so on. But what if I am sitting in our sofa, minding my own business, but notice that my airways feel irritated (not unusual for me) and as if my breathing isn't as comfortable as it could be, without it being really bad? I can manage fine, but now I notice it - or pay attention. Should I take ventolin? My peak flow at present ranges between 290 and 330 generally, though once I managed to hit the dizzy height of 360. I am trying to also link it with other activities, like cleaning a very dusty room, but that is work in progress at present.
Any advice/learning from others is welcomed.