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Old 09-30-2011, 10:13 PM   #1
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Red face Did I have an asthma attack?

So about two weeks ago, I was working out at home to a DVD I had bought, and in the middle of the workout, I got really short of breath and my chest started to get really tight. I have an albuterol inhaler that my allergist gave me, so I used that, and it helped get my breathing back to normal. I checked my peak flows a couple times that day, and I was in the yellow zone, so I used my inhaler every 6 hours. The following evening I used my inhaler and then went for a run about 20 mins later. I ran about 2 miles with no breathing issues at all. Being that I had some trouble breathing the day before, I continued to closely monitor my peak flows. I usually don't pay much attention to them, but I was still feeling short of breath, and my peak flows continued to be in the yellow zone. The next morning, I was walking from my car to the building I work in, and I had to go up three small flights of stairs to get to the office. When I reached the top, I was completely out of breath, and had to stop at the top of the stairs and rest and calm my breathing down. Later that morning I walked out to my car, and by the time I got down the stairs and through the parking lot, I could barely breathe. My chest was tight, my breathing became very rapid, almost like I had just got done running, but worse. I used my inhaler, and soon enough I was able to breath normally again. About 4 hours later, I was sitting at my desk, and all of a sudden the same thing started happening again. My chest got really tight, I was really short of breath, I was sweating, and I got really dizzy. My co-worker also told me afterwards that I had no color in my face. My peak flows during this were in the red zone. I again used my inhaler, and my symptoms went away. I left work early and went home and slept the remainder of the day. When I woke up the following morning, I was still having issues, and my boss insisted that I go to the ER. The ER did a chest xray, CT scan, blood work, and came to the conclusion that I have allergy induced bronchospasm. I have since been referred to a pulmonary doctor. He started me on Advair 250/50 and is going to have me do a pulmonary function test, an exercise challenge test, and if needed, a methacholine challenge test to confirm his diagnosis that I have allergy induced asthma. My question is, I have never had an asthma attack before, so was the breathing issues I experienced two weeks ago a flare-up/attack? How do you know if it was an attack? I never have any wheezing, but I usually have a horrible cough afterwards. Please if anyone has any ideas about what happened, I would greatly appreciate it. I just want to make sure I am getting treated for the right thing. That honestly was the scariest thing ever, not being able to breath normally!

 
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Old 10-01-2011, 05:51 AM   #2
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

One does not have to wheeze to have asthma/attack/flare-up. (Gosh, why do people think it's a requirement for asthma????) anyway, it does sound like you had some asthma attacks. Do what the pulmonologist told you and get tested. Getting on proper meds to control it is your best bet.

 
Old 10-01-2011, 08:30 AM   #3
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

I agree. Sounds like asthma. And your doctor is doing the right tests to make sure.

The Advair should provide some benefits right away, but it'll take about 2 weeks to get the full benefit, maybe more. If it is allergy related, though, you'll probably feel a lot better once the pollen season ends, which will be first frost at the latest.

Did the pulmonologist suggest taking an antihistamine?

 
Old 10-01-2011, 11:08 AM   #4
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

Thanks for such a quick response. Unfortunately I was afraid that you guys were going to think it was asthma. I am in the military, so this could possibly end my career. I have heard of some people that were able to continue to serve, but they had to prove that the asthma was well controlled with meds. I am also taking Singulair, Astelin, and Allegra. He has me only taking the Allegra for a week, but continuing to take the rest. I go for my PFT and exercise challenge test in two weeks. Can you have a normal PFT and still have asthma? What about the methacholine test, can it be normal and it still be asthma? My doctors have ruled out all other possible things that this could be, and they all seem pretty certain it is asthma. I will keep you posted on how things go with my testing, and thanks again for your responses.

 
Old 10-01-2011, 11:42 AM   #5
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

If your asthma is under good control, or if you have a large lung capacity to begin with, you may have normal PFTs. However, methacholine challenge generally does NOT miss asthma, unless it is VERY well controlled.

Now, if you want to continue to serve, find out what the requirements are for demonstrating control in your case. Take your medicine diligently, be sure you are using the inhalers correctly (there are videos out there, or ask your pulmonologist's nurse), and minimize your exposure to allergens. Don't lie about anything, but do your best to get your lungs healthy and avoid another flare-up.

 
Old 10-01-2011, 11:26 PM   #6
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

It does sound like you had some asthma attacks. I get bronchospasm also and I find that Advair is the best at controlling it for me. I can do my lap swimming daily miles w/ no problem, etc. When on Advair I hardly ever need to use albuterol. My Dr. said that if I needed to use albuterol more than twice a week that my asthma was not well controlled. (!)

There are professional athletes and Olympic athletes who have asthma and who continue with their active lives, so, assuming that you meet the requirements for demonstrating control, I wouldn't think asthma should be a career-ender for you.

 
Old 10-02-2011, 01:21 PM   #7
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

I am hoping that all will be okay, especially now that I am on medication that seems to be working pretty good. The fact of the matter is, that the military frowns upon asthma. You cannot get in if you have it. I went through what we call a medical board, a board that determines whether or not healthwise if you are able to continue serving. I had ovarian cancer two years ago, and went through 4 rigorous cycles of chemotherapy. I was a completely healthy young woman up to that point. I am worried, because if this is in fact asthma, another medical board will be generated. I don't know if they will keep me, being that this is will be my second board. I think there comes a point in time, where they will say that I am just too sick to continue any longer. That will super stink, because I have 13 years in and I would hate to throw it all away now. I know my health is important, and it is what it is, I can't make the asthma go away. I am just hoping I can keep my career!! I am making sure that I take my medicine correctly and not missing a single dose. Hopefully, I can be on of the few that can prove it is well controlled and save my career. Right now, all I can do is wait until they test me on the 12th and hope for the best!

 
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:22 AM   #8
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

So, an update from last time. I went for my pulmonary function test this morning. All was going well, then I came to a part of the test that I couldn't complete. They gave me two puffs of albuterol and then asked me to inhale as deeply as I could. I wasn't able to breathe in deeply enough to complete this portion of the test. What does that mean? Next, they wanted to do my exercise challenge test. I didn't understand why they would give me an exercise challenge test after giving me two puffs of albulterol. When I asked, they said this is what the doctor wanted. Come to find out, after I completed the exercise challenge test, they told me that I have to come back tomorrow, because the albuterol would affect my test results. Can anyone answer why after given the albuterol, I couldn't inhale deeply enough. I will post again tomorrow after I complete my second exercise challenge test, but was just concerned about my inability to complete part of the pulmonary function test.

 
Old 10-13-2011, 01:21 PM   #9
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

Okay, so I went and did my exercise challenge test again today. Here is what happened. The technician had me try to do the DLCO portion of the pulmonary function test since I could not perform it the last time. Again, I could not inhale deep enough for them to do the test. The technician said I had to reach their baseline, and that I only get three tries. If I don't reach the baseline, within three tries then they don't continue with the test.

Next, they took be into the treadmill room and started up everything. They put one of those things on my finger that monitors heart rate and oxygen levels. She then started the test. What I am confused about, is that she did not get my heart rate up to its maximum rate. I didn't even work up a sweat! She had me walk for ten minutes. Then they took me back into the spirometry room and had me do the spirometry at 5 mins, 10 mins, 15 mins, 20 mins, and then 30 mins. My results came back negative for exercise induced asthma. What I don't understand is that isn't the test supposed to mimic exercise conditions that would bring on asthma symptoms. I know that when I am outside running, I get chest tightness, shortness of breath, cough. I had absolutely none of these symptoms, but then again, it was like a walk in the park...I wasn't even the slightest bit winded afterwards. My numbers dropped a little bit, but not enough for the test to be positive. Did they do the test wrong?

 
Old 10-13-2011, 05:02 PM   #10
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

This sounds like a poor way to determine whether or not someone has exercise-induced asthma, BUT, this may be the standard for you to stay in the military. You just have to do the brisk walk without triggering it.

I would guess that if you were in a combat role, the standard for lung health would be much higher.

 
Old 10-17-2011, 12:14 AM   #11
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Re: Did I have an asthma attack?

So, I think I just had another asthma flare-up, attack, bronchospasm or whatever you want to call it. This time it happened while I was laying in bed surfing the Internet before going to sleep. It was so sudden, like the last time. It started with this really odd feeling in my chest for a few seconds. Then, after that the really rapid breathing/shortness of breath started. Unfortunately, my inhaler was downstairs in my purse. I took two puffs and thought I was ok. I went back upstairs and tried to lie down and it started up again only this time I heard a little bit of wheezing, which I never have. So two more puffs...and I am doing fine now. I haven't been diagnosed yet, but I am wondering if I should call my doctor tomorrow. I don't have no action plan, so I am not sure if I should change my medication amount for the next day or so. I am concerned, because last time this happened I was in the ER. This is really scaring the "you know what" out of me! Please any advice on what to do would be really helpful!

 
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