What are your asthma flares like? - Living with Asthma

Living with Asthma
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What are your asthma flares like?

hilary39
hilary39

Question for the community: what are your severe asthma flares like? I’m in the middle of one and really struggling. The way mine manifest is: 1) I encounter a mild allergen such as dust or pet hair on someone’s clothes 2) I get allergic then the asthma kicks in and it becomes progressively hard to take full breaths, i yawn a lot, and have chest pain 3) when the asthma doesn’t respond to a nebulizer I start a prednisone course (under the guidance of my doctor) and those last anywhere from 5 days to weeks depending on the severity 4) it often takes weeks or months for the inflammation to go down and to get back to “normal”. (I should also add that even during bad flares my oxygen and peak flow are normal). I take Symbicort, Spiriva, Zyrtec, and Flonase daily and just stated Xolair.

Thanks in advance for any insight or shared experience with flares!

30 Replies
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Minushabens
MinushabensAsthma Captain

My flares are a lot more frequent & serious than they used to be, but up until recently, I'd feel tight-chested for a day or so which would then get worse quite quickly. I would have maybe 2 or 3 days then when I would feel really rough; sometimes not able to get out of the chair, then it would start to turn around.

Like you, I'd usually increase medication or get steroids which I guess would help things to improve.

Nowadays I'm almost one long flare-up, but in part that's due to added complications.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Minushabens

I feel like I’m one long flare lately too! May I ask what meds are you on? Is your asthma kicked off by allergy triggers?

Minushabens
MinushabensAsthma Captain in reply to hilary39

I have a wide array of triggers...some allergic others environmental. So cats are very bad for me, pollen to a degree, smoke sets me off, etc.

I also have ABPA which is a severe aspergillus allergy.

I take Relvar, Spiriva & salbutamol inhalers, prednisolone, montelukast & am testing tolerance of uniphyllin (which isn’t going well). I also take itraconazole for the ABPA. Plus blood pressure medication on top so I’m lucky I don’t rattle!

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Minushabens

The aspergillus allergy sounds hard, I know it’s everywhere! I wish you an ok spring!! The pollen has been so hard on my lungs...

Minushabens
MinushabensAsthma Captain in reply to hilary39

I'm learning about it all the time, but to make matters worse it transpires that human lungs produce aspergillus naturally. So as well as being allergic to my garden, I'm potentially allergic to myself!

It could only happen to me :D

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Minushabens

Yikes!!!

Yeah, that sounds a lot like me. And it's terrifying. I'm on maintenance but just today I likely had a chemical exposure that burned my eyes, sinuses and lungs. I felt like I was about to be a mess again, and I've been feeling asymptomatic for a while. I get most of my exposure in the workplace now, as a child it was at school. I work to control what I can in my home environment, etc.

I wear a mask when I'm outside and when I can afford it I run an iqair and Honeywell air filters in my apartment.

My allergist used to give me a cocktail of brovana, ipratropium and pulomicort via nebulizer when I was very sick. I do take theophylline and Singulair as part of my daily regimine.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to IChoose

Thank you for sharing! I hope the chemical exposure doesn’t lead to symptoms that last too long-

IChoose
IChoose in reply to hilary39

Actually, I bounced back but found myself exhausted after it.

Carakraft
CarakraftAdministrator

My triggers are generally more allergy triggered ( fall and spring especially) but I am just getting back on my feet from a virus that has had my asthma at it's worst! 2 rounds of Prednisone and antibiotics for my treatment...I am much better but this one really wiped me out.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Carakraft

Isn’t it hard when the first round of prednisone doesn’t stop it and you have to keep going? I hate that. Hope you’re feeling better these days.

IChoose
IChoose in reply to Carakraft

Yes, I'm terrified of flu season. What's worst is if I get sick I'm always panicked my mother, who has lupus, will catch it from me, then we are in the emergency room, and after that my asthma just spirals downward.

Mine are coughing, tightness in my chest, and it is hard to take that deep breath in. Usually after a flare I end up with bronchitis. Takes a while to get over it.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Beasley63

Me too! I’ve had bronchitis more times than I can count.

Emotions and exercise are the main causes of my asthma flares, and I always keep my Albuterol in tow. I also wear a Medic Alert (the GPS) necklace because my attacks usually come out of nowhere. The chest tightness and coughing fits are scary to go through. I use Symbicort and Spiriva too as my controller medications. Azelastine spray for nasal allergies. If I'm having a bad day, I use my nebulizer, though I should be using it every day.

I don't mean to get too personal but I always wear protective underwear to keep from wetting myself. When I go through my attacks, that happens. The experience is frightening.

Sounds very scary. That got me thinking maybe I should get a medical bracelet too...

Kudos for your sharing regarding protective underwear. Oh yes!!

Mine are usually like this: I wake up after a sound sleep, and it's as if consciousness (being awake) triggers hands around my throat. There must be a psychological element to this... then the attack, then the inhalers. Another time it hits is in the afternoon; as if settling upon me. Maybe pollen is settling? The older I get, the more I'm allergic to. Just touching my friend's wonderful dog gives me welts where ever my skin contacted his fur.

It is so hard to be allergic to friends’ pets!! I sympathize. I can’t even go into their homes which people don’t always understand...

You should follow your Dr.'s lead regarding the Prednisone. There are no rigid dose guidelines, so dosing and length of treatment are individualized. Hopefully, you can taper off (under your Dr.'s guidance) after some months on the Xolair. The biggest problem in the U.S. is the tremendous cost of drugs! But while Prednisone is very inexpensive, it and other Steroids can cause some longstanding side effects, like osteoporosis and Type II Diabetes. If you need it, you need it. The Xolair can have some possible side effects too, but in my experience, not as bad as those with Steroids. I have gone from being crazy active at the gym and working 40-50 hours a week to being retired and doing mild exercise. Accepting that some days will be good and some won't is hard.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Wheezie1

That mindfulness to get non-attached to moments of health, expectations for your life etc. is so hard. I’m on vacation and in a bad flare and every hour is different symptom-wise and I’m having a hard time turning of my disappointed inner voice that’s telling me I can’t travel anymore, I need to stay home and never leave the house again etc. (I’ve had so many flares from tiny things this year-)

I didn’t exercise like crazy but I did use to run 3-4 times a week, half marathons etc and I really miss that.

I also had a high powered job and now work from home which is definitely an adjustment.

Have you ever read “how to be sick” by toni bernhard? It’s pretty amazing for coping with chronic unpredictable illnesss-

Wheezie1
Wheezie1 in reply to hilary39

No, I have not read that book. Are you in the UK or U.S.? I am in the U.S. and will look for it here. In 2016, I had a Total Knee Replacement in November, then found out in early December that I had broken my neck in a fall as an infant and would need a C1-C2 Posterior Cervical Fusion in March. Three days before that surgery I had to have a breast biopsy (benign). Since I had Osteoporosis & arthritis, my bones did not fuse until Feb., 2017, so I wore a rigid cervical colar for 11 months. I am scheduled to have Anterior & Posterior L4-L5 Fusions this June. I could probably write a book about how to be sick. 😂 Depression is a part of chronic illness, but don't count yourself out just yet! With the new drugs, you may well be able to do things you can't do now. We can support each other. My younger son lives across the country and I want to visit him - just haven't been able to yet. I used to enjoy travel, but had to retire in 2017, so most of my money goes to medicine and medical bills.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to Wheezie1

I’m so sorry to hear about all of that!! Those surgeries sound so painful :( is your knee better? I am actually in France but I’m American so stumbling on these support groups has been so great! My French isn’t that good yet :-)

I feel calm about being sick most of the time, it’s just hard to feel awful on an often daily level!! I know you understand what I mean.

Wheezie1
Wheezie1 in reply to hilary39

Yes, I do! Are you on Prednisone now? I know that for me a change in temperature or humidity, such as you might encounter with travel, or even the added stress (even eustress of a vacation) can trigger an exacerbation of my asthma. Prednisone might get you to feeling better quickly, so you could enjoy your vacation. I hope you feel better soon!

IChoose
IChoose in reply to hilary39

If you're on vacation and having a bad flair there could be something in your room that is setting you off - could be anything - dust, animal dander, mold, some chemical, cigarette smoke from another room, etc. Don't give up. Could be weather and a pollen where you are. Have you tried taking a vacation to a beach community?

Do you wear face mask when you leave your residence, or when you are indoors and in dusty areas?

Do you wear a hat when you leave your residence to protect your hair from collecting pollens etc. and then tracking them back into the home.

Do you wear gloves or mittens to protect your hands from contact allergens while also keeping them warm.

Do you bring a windbreaker or jacket or something with you when you go out for warmth. If we get too cold it is a tax on our immune system.

Have you tried singulair / monteleukast tablets? They can helpful in managing some allergic asthma symptoms.

Have you tried neilmed squeeze bottle sinus irrigation to flush out whatever got into your sinuses when you went out or were exposed to indoor allergens.

Do you run a hepa filter where you sleep at minimum so that your 8 ours or so of sleep time is in cleaner air?

I do or try to do all of the above, frequently look ridiculous when I go outside, and have reached the point that I don't care. I simply have to take care of my health and staying home in a dusty apartment all day does not help either.

hilary39
hilary39 in reply to IChoose

These are great questions! I was on this old cruise ship to Russia that was super dusty and moldy and that's what kicked it off. The rest of our hotels and Airbnbs were sparkling clean and pristine. I unfortunately can't do singulair but I just started Xolair and I have high hopes. We keep two Hepa filter air purifiers running in our apartment at all times. I need a mini travel one!! :-) I hope you are doing well and feeling healthy, thanks for the compassionate response.

IChoose
IChoose in reply to hilary39

I'm considering taking a job working in a dusty trailer amid exquisite landscaping. I think I'd best re-read your question and my answer. of course, I'm feeling really really good lately. That's why we have the language "asthma attacks." Two years ago during an uncontrolled time I had to see a cardiologist for the first time in m life who told me my heart is getting tired.

HI - my flare ups start with chest tightness and shortness of breath. I continually yawn and sigh trying to get that deep breath. When I do take a deep,breath my lungs tickle and then I start coughing. Sometimes I wheeze, but not generally. Just tight as a drum. Then the horrible fatigue sets in and i have to use pro-air inhaler and it takes about 20 minutes to kick in. It takes days to get my energy back. I just started singulair ( monteklust) and it really seems to be helping me as it knocks down the post nasal drip which helps the inflammation in the lungs and the horrible acid reflux I have. So if it continues to knock those two things out - post nasal drip and Acid reflux, perhaps the asthma will go away!!!

Hi Hillary, I ve had asthma my whole adult life and getting worse in retirement years. Hospitalized twice in 2019 for double pneumonia and sepsis.. doing better now, but too many animals in my life is making me feel hopeless ...have severe animal allery

Can you avoid the animals in your life at all? I know it's so hard as they are like family members but if your health is at risk, that is the most important thing. I can't even go into houses where there are pets. It's hard on my friendships and relationships with my family members but I have just had to accept it as my new normal so that I don't wind up in the hospital or sick on the couch for weeks (my flares last SO long these days).

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