please forgive me as this post may a bit long. but i'm in need of some serious advice.. never been in this situation before. all my life i've had breathing problems. just a general shortness of breath even while barely moving or not moving at all. a couple of years ago, i had an "episode" at work that scared the crap out of me (i was standing there doing nothing when i suddenly couldn't breath and this went on for about half an hour) so my brother came and took me to an urgent care place. there the doc didn't do a single test and passed it off as a panic attack. as soon as he heard i hate past anxiety issues, that was his assumption. though i have had past anxiety, (i'm afraid of flying and got sick before getting on the plane, type stuff) i've long since learned how to deal and don't have any issues with it anymore. since then i've just not really paid much attention i suppose to the breathing thing, thinking it was normal. (even though i've had other episodes and people around me are really concerned) friday night i was woken up in a dead sleep, not being able to breathe and it felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. i didn't panic, just laid there and tried to coach myself through it but my heart kept beating really hard and i couldn't catch my breath. i started yawning about every 5 seconds and this went on for about 10 or 15 minutes. so i went to the ER where they did a chest xray, blood work, and breathing treatment. all the tests came back normal and they had been monitoring the oxygen in my blood (which was 98 the entire time except when it went down to 88 once and then slowly went back up). i saw the doc for all of 5 seconds, who didn't explain a thing to me and sent in a nurse to tell me i had a "bronchospasm" and they were giving me an inhaler.
now. i have little faith in modern medicine because of past experience and this didn't help. nobody told me anything about any possible underlying cause. i came home and looked it up for hours. every symptom i have is linked to asthma. i guess i'm confused as to why they would give me an inhaler and never so much as mention the word asthma or even tell me i really needed to follow up with a doctor to see what the cause was. on top of everything, he prescribed me ventolin HFA which is the second most expensive version of albuterol.. which he could have given me and would have done the same thing.
i don't have health insurance, which makes this all very difficult. but right now i'm supposed to be taking 2 puffs every 4 hours. which seems weird to me since its a rescue inhaler. i don't know what to do. i've read more about medical issues and medicine in the last 3 days than i thought i ever needed to know.
Unfortunately, the ER is not a very good place to get tested for asthma and to work with a doctor to find a plan to manage your asthma - they tend to focus on resolving your immediate symptoms, and it sounds like you've had a long term problem that is flaring up.
Based on your description it does sound like asthma so you probably need to figure out a way to see a pulmonologist to get tested and get a long-term asthma management plan.
Usually an asthma management plan will include a long-acting inhaler (like Flovent) so that you're only using the Ventolin when you have a flare up.
One note on the albuterol vs. ventolin, because of changes required for environmental reasons, all of the inhalers have had to switch their propellants to HFA so there aren't really any less expensive alternatives (you might check out the "Lower cost/generic asthma meds?" thread on this board for a discussion of this question).
The other question you should consider is what triggers your asthma? The two most common triggers seem to be allergies and acid reflux. For most people getting their asthma triggers under control can make managing their asthma much easier (and both allergies and acid reflux can usually be controlled with less expensive over-the-counter medications).
thank you so much for replying. i really need all the advice i can get. i don't know of any allergies i have and i don't think i have acid reflux. anytime i've had an episode its been random. the only things i've noticed make my breathing much more difficult are when i'm in a store and i walk down the candle isle or the isle with dryer sheets. also i can't be around incense or go into stores like bath and body works. so i avoid these things. i get extremely short of breath after little exertion (like getting up and walking to the bathroom or kitchen) and its times like those when my heart starts beating out of my chest. i don't know. i thought it might be asthma years ago when i had an episode at work and it was really bad but since the doc brushed it off as nothing, so did i.
having no insurance makes it very hard. but i've heard about these clincs they have now inside of walgreens that don't cost a whole lot.. so i thought i'd start there.
something else that was weird to me. for a few weeks before and a couple of days after my last episode, my nail beds were really blueish-purple. i asked the doc about it but he just glanced at them said they "looked fine to him" and cracked a joke on his way out the door.. so i don't think he took my question seriously. i've heard this is a sign of oxygen deprivation.. so i'm wondering, wouldn't they have picked that up while monitoring my oxygen level?
I didn't think I had reflux either, but my breathing got better the day I started on Aciphex.
I'm doing ever so much better than I was, and I've only seen a regular family practitioner. I have had to pay for some visits out of pocket and it's been quite reasonable.
When I learned that there aren't really low-cost asthma meds, I started investigating. GlaxoSmithKline has resources for people who need meds, and can also direct you to outside resources. It's worth some phone calls.
Also, an FP in a regular practice may be willing to give you samples, at least until you can get something sorted out with a discount program or even a Canadian pharmacy.
This is my first visit to this website, and posting. I want to say that the oxgen level thing they stick on your finger doesn't give an accurate reading. Why do I say this? My mother was in the hospital and they kept the oxgen thing on her finger and it read here oxgen was fine. Yet she was gasping for breath. Then they went deep into her arm to get blood for the real oxgen level, and came back within minutes and the doctor told us, she wouldn't live five minutes if they didn't get the breathing machine to help her breathe. Her lungs were building up carbon dioxide. I have asthma and when I go to the doctor the first thing the nurse does is put that thing on my finger, and I've told them, but the nurse looks at me strange. Now, I just let them put it on me and don't say anything, but I laugh inside at their ignorance. They are just listening to good sellers that sell the products. That oxgen level thing will say I'm in the normal or above normal range when I wheezing so loud anyone can hear me, and having so much difficulty breathing. It was very hard to get diagnosed with asthma in the beginning, so I bought inhalers over the counter. My experience with doctors is they know much about colds and pneumonia, but when it comes to asthma they don't. With asthma you can breathe in, but can't let it out. I hope this helps.
i'm in a similar situation to you. though i have insurance, i don't have a regular doctor. i started having trouble breathing in February, went to a walk-in clinic a week later, got told i had bronchitis. antibiotics. seven weeks later nothing changed. "bronchitis". more antibiotics. finally the doctor said i 'might' have asthma and put me on salbutamol hfa [same as Ventolin].
i'm in canada, and i'm on a generic version [ratio-salbutamol]. some days i take it up to the max 4 times a day--mine says the same as yours does about taking 4 x daily as needed, other days are better.
finding a clinic that can help you afford treatment costs could be a good plan. once i find a doctor i'm going to see if they can add controller medication to my treatment.
we're both in the same boat. let us know how this goes -- i'm new to the board, but if it has private messaging, feel free to pm me.