Asthma w/ GERD and Swallowing Disorder?
So I had my first appointment with a Pulmonologist a few weeks ago. I have been diagnosed with asthma since January 2002 and am on a regimine of Advair 500/50, Singulair, Albuterol, Tessalon Perle and an EpiPen for emergencies. I still have problems with cold and polluted air, but during warm weather my asthma seems under control.
A little over 2 years ago, I had an extreme flare-up with a chronic cough (the kind where you can't catch your breath) for about 4 months. My asthma medication dosages were increased. I also went through testing (24hr PH and monometry) and discovered I also had reflux with no symptoms other than the cough. After a few attempts with a couple meds, I found that a twice daily dose of Prevacid and diet modification got it under control. I have followed this routine for the last couple years.
During this past winter, my asthma flared up and was out of control. With the extreme cold air and air pollution, my asthma symptoms changed from just being a cough to also including chest tightness and extreme difficulty catching a breath. I ended up needing emergency treatment in January. I asked for a referral to a Pulmonologist. It took me over 4 months to get an appointment. Of course, by now the air has warmed and my asthma is under control. I haven't needed my Albuterol for about 7 weeks. The Pulmonologist confirmed my asthma and had me go for some testing. This testing inculded a Modified Barium Swallow and Esophagram. My Pulmonologist called today (on Sunday?) to tell me that the testing confirmed that I have a swallowing disorder. He said that until I get the swallowing disorder under control, I will NEVER have my asthma under control.
I will be going back to my GI doc for follow-up on this latest testing. I guess what frustrates me is that I currently have NO symptoms. My asthma is currently under control since the things that usually trigger it aren't present right now. I don't have any GERD/LPR symptoms. I have never noticed any swallowing problems. I will visit with my GI doc, but how will I ever know when I have things under control if I don't even have any symptoms at all until things flare up? This winter my asthma problems really scared me.
Also, since I have been on a reflux diet and medication for years, I worry that I will be facing surgery to correct a reflux/swallowing problem that I don't even feel symptoms of just to get control of my asthma.