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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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Respiratory difficulties? - August 24th 2012, 02:09 PM

So, for quite a few years I've been having mild breathing difficulties. It took me a while to realise that, because at first I chalked it up to being unfit or around allergens. I kept having a sore throat/cough/signs of some kind of infection. I went to my GP a few times, and each time she treated it as if it were a temporary thing, with antibiotics and such. Eventually I was more insistent about it, and she referred me to an allergy specialist. This was a few years ago. The specialist ruled out the possibility of asthma and diagnosed me with a rather severe allergy, which I've been on desensitisation injections for since then. These have been helping a lot, especially in terms of the reaction to the skin-prick test, but... well, lately I've been thinking that the problem runs deeper than that.

The other day I did some running and jumping and physical activity like stuff, and it left me feeling absolutely awful. I was having trouble breathing, I had a lot of phlegm, and my throat felt like it was burning. I also get short of breath when I'm in high altitudes (discovered that one on a class excursion to the highest mountain in the country, go figure), I still get sick often, I almost always have a blocked nose and sore throat when I wake up, and I even get puffed walking up stairs. There's even been a couple of times where I honestly thought I wasn't going to be able to breathe after physical activity.

This is kind of worrying me, especially since I'm not sure what it is. The symptoms usually go away with rest/water, but I'm also still on medication (an asthma puffer once a day, without which I tend to lose my voice; and a variety of medicated/non-medicated nasal sprays, which I don't go a day without using) and I really don't want to have to rely on those forever. I just want to know what's wrong, and preferably how to fix it.

Okay. This is getting long, so I'll try to wrap it up. I know you're not professionals, but do any of you have any idea what this could be, or even how I could manage it? I'm going to try to go back to my regular GP when I go home for break, but it would be nice to have some kind of idea before then. Thanks in advance.


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Re: Respiratory difficulties? - August 24th 2012, 06:34 PM

I had most of those symptoms with exercise too, and was put on an inhaler before physical activity which made a big difference; maybe ask to be tested again? It could've also been an allergic reaction to something outside.


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Re: Respiratory difficulties? - August 29th 2012, 09:57 AM

Thanks for the response, Katie. I appreciate it.


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Re: Respiratory difficulties? - August 29th 2012, 03:02 PM

Surprisingly, allergies can cause asthma, and asthma can cause allergies. I know they tested you and said you don't have asthma...but how did they test you? It is possible to do a lung function test (measuring the amount air you exhale and/or peak flow which measures how hard you can breathe out) and pass, but still have asthma.

The most accurate, in my own opinion, is the provocative testing which has you running in place while the doctors measure your airway obstruction before and after the exercise. Also, the Methacholine challenge is good. It's a medicine you inhale. When inhaled, it can cause lung obstruction. People with asthma are very susceptible so they react quickly and quite obviously.

So, it could definitely be asthma still. Or just bad allergies.

I'm actually allergic to pretty much everything environmental but didn't develop this until 5th grade. I'm allergic to all types of trees, grass, pollen, dust, flowers of all types, etc. So even on days when it looks nice out, but the allergy alert is moderate-mild (average), I have attacks while inside with the A/C unit on.

Of course, I also have asthma which I was diagnosed with the same time. So I think you should ask your doctor what type of severe allergy reaction you had. Was it a one time thing? Could it be something environmental? What were you allergic to on the skin-prick test? (for reference, I was allergic to all 88 things they pricked me with)

When I have bad attacks, I sit down and relax. I put my arms above my head. I take my inhaler, and I just focus on breathing. Usually passes within 5-10 minutes. Sometimes lasts as long as 30 minutes.

I've also started exercising regularly, which actually is helping. As long as you don't push yourself over the edge, exercise has been shown to improve breathing for people with asthma.
   
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Re: Respiratory difficulties? - August 31st 2012, 12:53 PM

Kelly, thank you so much for your reply.

In response to your questions, I can't remember the exact procedure they used to test me (I was a bit freaked out about the idea of having a skin-prick test so was trying not to pay attention), but at least part of it was basically what you described in the lung function test; they had me exhale into some kind of device which measured it, and then they had me inhale some kind of asthma puffer and measured it again, and then said that since the puffer didn't improve my lung function it probably wasn't asthma.

The skin-prick test, from memory, showed that I was very allergic to dustmites (which is what I'm having the injections for) and, to a much lesser extent, cats and dogs. At first I thought that having pets was part of the problem, but since I've moved out it hasn't really improved. For example, I haven't been near a cat or dog in a month, nor have any been in my room, and yet my symptoms are still here. To manage my allergies I'm trying to do the logical things (sheet changes every week, keeping my room clean, etc) which seems to help but not a lot.

I've actually found that light exercise helps a bit. If it's too cold my throat/chest starts hurting, but if I time it right a nice walk/jog tends to help clear some of the phlegm and such. So does swimming in salt water, but unfortunately I'm not close enough to a beach to make this a viable option.

So do you think it's worth investigating this further? Should I try to get another appointment with the specialist who's handling my immunotherapy program, or should I consult a different specialist since this one failed to identify the whole problem? Can you think of anything else I should be doing/should avoid doing in order to manage these irritating symptoms?

Thank you again for your help. I'm sorry for all the questions.


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Re: Respiratory difficulties? - August 31st 2012, 03:04 PM

Well, A/C is good for people with allergies and asthma. So try to avoid having your window open. If you do, have an air purifier next to you.

Drinking lots of water helps clear up the phlegm as well. On really bad days, do a mix of water and something hot. Like some tea. Milk sticks to your throat with phlegm, so try to avoid anything with milk on bad days.

Getting an allergy protecting pillow case helps me sleep better. Though my boyfriend can't sleep with the texture of it, so we put a normal pillow sham (pillowcase) over it. It's not as effective, but it still helps him.

Over the counter Zyrtec helped both of us after we were taking it about 6 weeks. Unfortunately, it is expensive. You can have your doctor prescribe the generic, which is cheaper.

I would say try your current doctor again. Just tell her your concerns. "Hey, I'm just worried as it hasn't cleared up. I'm pretty miserable and worried. Is there anything else you can do? What about a different test for asthma? I heard it's possible to pass the breathing test and still have asthma." Just bring up your concerns and offer suggestions.

If she still says there is nothing wrong and nothing else she can do, I would try someone else. It can't hurt. It took me 3 doctors before someone agreed my periods were irregular Fairly certain that is pretty obvious....but some doctors are just odd.

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Re: Respiratory difficulties? - September 6th 2012, 06:17 AM

Thank you again. I think you've answered all my questions and addressed my concerns for now, but I may get in touch with you later if I think of anything else.


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