I am new to this board, and am totally lost, so I will begin with a brief history. My current issues started 2 years ago, when I was still a student ( I am 22 now). Out of nowhere, I was having tightness in chest and breathing issues. It felt like my lungs were only at half capacity, so to speak, cause everytime I breathed in, it felt like they weren't filling up all the way. I went to the school clinic, where the doctor prescribed some advair and albuterol. My peak flows were only in the 300s and 400s when I saw him. He had me do the advair twice a day, albuterol 3 times a day or as needed. He had me measure my peak flow every day. This was around May, after a month my peak flows were constantly in the upper 500s and 600s. So i dropped all the medication.
Throughout much of later summer and all of winter, I didn't have much problem. I don't recall having to touch the albuterol at all. I would have days once in a while where those symptoms would come back, but I would just breathe in deeply and gut it out. Then last spring (2004), those symptoms came back again. Off to the school clinic i went again. This time the doctor actually blamed my allergies and my blocked sinuses, and actually prescribed FLONASE. It did seem to help a bit. I tried not to use the albuterol, and gutted out my symptoms. It helped that nothing I did was THAT physcially grueling. Symptoms lasted a couple of months, then i was fine for most of the rest of the year.
Again this year, the symptoms hit again. But this time, they started earlier, around January, and have been worse. So this time I saw an allergy/ asthma specialist. He blamed some of it on my severe allergies, I was very sensitive to grass and dust. I got an air filter and some covers for the bed, along with singulair (1X/day). This seemed to help, but I'd have symptoms off and on. Sometimes real bad, sometimes i'd feel pretty good, but that feeling of my lungs not being at FULL capacity when breathing in kept recurring. I started taking albuterol twice a day.
Then recently, I saw another doctor, who was actually the first one to say that he was going to DIAGNOSE me with ASTHMA. He had me take the singulair, advair twice a day, and albuterol when needed. This was about 5 days ago.
Don't know where to go from here. Do I have asthma? Is it possible for symptoms to just appear for a couple of months straight, and then pretty much dissappear for months as well?
Also, the problem is I won't be able to see this recent doctor again. After my 1st visit, which i paid out of pocket, i found out my insurance would not pick up the tab. Should I just keep taking the advair (as it does seem to help somewhat) until i find another doctor? What should my next step/ steps be? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
I'd say keep taking it until you can find another doc...then get a second oppinion. Ask them to do some more testing, if possible. It sounds like Asthma, to me, though. I mean...sounds like my symptoms, which come and go. The last few weeks for me, have been good ones...no Albuterol. :-) Symptoms come and go depending on what your triggers are...how you feel physically, etc. Oh, and welcome to the board! There are some really graet people here. :-)
>Do I have asthma? Is it possible for symptoms to just appear for a couple of >months straight, and then pretty much dissappear for months as well?
Possible, particularly if an allergen triggers your symptoms.
For example, if one is allergic to a pollen which flies only in April, he/she would suffer from allergic symptoms ONLY in April. His/her symptoms will go away after the season. In other word, you can do something about it before and during the season.
>Again this year, the symptoms hit again. But this time, they started earlier, >around January, and have been worse.
This could happen if the number of your allergen in this year is higher than that in the past few years.
There are several ways to dignose asthma.
Respiratory test, blood test, mucus test, X-ray test, airway sensitivity test and history taking etc. I've heard from an allergist that he can diagnose if one has asthma by putting him/her on an inhaled steroid for a few weeks and checking how his/her peak flow improved. But I think that it's important to eliminate other possibilities, so X-ray test would be a must.
I'd like to recommend you to go to a doctor who gives you above tests.
One thing I'd like to ask you is 'do your symptoms get worse at any apecific time, eg. at midnight or early morning, or at any specific place? '
Thanks for the welcome and the responses. I've been searching for a help board like this for a while.
As for tests, 2 years ago, when the problems started, I took a chest X-ray,and one again recently. I think my 1st doctor said that looking at the X-ray made him think I had inflammed airways, (did he say Reactive Airway, I am not sure). Then again, i don't know if just looking at a chest x-ray would even tell a doctor this. But nothing else was out of the ordinary.
I had CBC blood test done, everything cool. my 1st doctor also had me do the advair/ albuterol thing and my peak flow did steadliy improve, it was cool to see that cause I kept an accurate chart. I entered his office in the 300s (6 1 22 year old) and after about a month i could get up to the low 700s.
The allergist I saw recently just tested me for allergies, and said i was sensitive to dust and grass.
As far as time of day or place where my symptoms get worse.... good question. I really don't think so. It does seem like lying down makes it a tad worse, though i have very rarely had difficulty sleeping cause of this. I can't really isolate a place either. I've tried hard to correlate SOMETHING with my problems. I don't think its a coincedence that for the last 2 years, my problems always start in the February-April range, and seem to taper off around June. It was funny cause this past June I went to Universal Studios and ran around with a bunch of little kids like a madman, and now I can barely walk through the mall sometimes without feeling tight-chested and weak.
Last week was great, I had almost no symptoms, and this week has gotten worse. So far the only thing I noticed, that might have something to do with it, maybe the wind/ smog. Last week was very clean here in Los Angeles, and this week, I could see the smog covering downtown. Also the wind seems to make it worse, seeing that wind would kick up dust, it might make sense.
>The allergist I saw recently just tested me for allergies, and said i was sensitive >to dust and grass.
What grass? Ragweed or something? Dust is a year round problem, though dust mites peak in humid seasons.
I guess you are allergic to the pollens flying in from early spring to June, though I'm not a medical professional.
Smog and wind worsen your symptoms. But wind carrys pollens as well as smog. This is also true for sunlight. Smog has much to do with sunlight but so does pollen. Smog is worse in summer, however you feel better in summer...
Smog may be, however, one of your non-specific triggers. But it is not your allergen, because allergen is protein.
Anyway you should keep contact with your doctor. If you think you can not trust him/her, it'd better to seek another. Second opinion would help.
Also putting on mask when you feel it's getting worse would improve your symptoms. And if it improves, your triggers are probably airborne.
Cleaning your bedding, rugs, carpeting and furniture thoroughly might help by reducing the number of dust mites.
Asthma is a lifestyle disease. Changing your lifestyle and keeping a good lifestyle habit would improve the situation. Hope this helps. Good luck.
I agree with everyone else's post. If you do have asthma, it is best not to stop the Advair. This is a preventative medicine to help with inflammation. I think you will find that in time, this may be the only medication you will have to be on. When you get your asthma under control, all symptoms go away and you feel well enough to quite using your Advair. But you shouldn't stop. I think Advair is a miracle drug. I have literally had no symptoms since using it. Now if you want to dig further to find out why you have the inflammation and allergies, that's a whole other subject. I have been reading a lot about inflammation and diseases and it's amazing how we contribute to a lot of this ourselves through our diet. But first, get your asthma under control!
I don't know if this is how the medicine is supposed to work, but advair seems to make a difference for me. You know how you're supposed to use it 12 hours apart? well it seems like once about 11-12 hours pass, almost on the ***, my symptoms slowly eek back after a pretty much good day. The medicine does seem to be effective.
So speaking of advair, if I do STOP it all of a sudden, am I risking some serious problems?
Also, how safe is the drug? The only thing that makes me cautious is that i've heard some people actually died or that the medicine made them sicker.
There are a very small percentage of people that actually have an allergic reaction to it. But I think you would know after a short time if you do. The people that die using it, are those that try to treat it as an emergency drug. Advair doesn't help once you are having an attack.
I went to the doctor again today, and he pretty much gave me a plan with my medicine. i am currently taking Singulair, Advair 500/50 and Albuterol (though since the Advair, I have rarely needed to use albuterol). He suggested I gradually wean myself off the singulair, and reduce the advair to 1 puff a day then none, just staying on albuterol on a need-by basis. Even at my worst, I've only needed albuterol about 4-5 times a day, usually just gutting out my symptoms by trying to calm down and taking really deep breaths.
So does this sound like a good plan? I understand not taking singulair (though it does seem to do wonders for my allergies) but I am not sure about stopping advair, i've only been taking it a week but it seems to be pretty effective.