Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Benadryl for Allergic Asthma

I have tried Claritin, Zyrtec, and Singulair to treat my allergies, and none of them seems to do much good.  I was hoping they would work, considering all are non drowsy.  I do, however, find that Benadryl works great.  I find that Benadryl works better than anything else in the world for allergic asthma.  
Consider, for example, that I have a severe allergy to dust mites.  So I'm in my basement cleaning up, and withing about a half hour I start to feel the symptoms: dry, itchy watery eyes, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a stuffy nose that is runny and, let's not forget, sneezy.  
I find that benadryl works for all of these symptoms.  It doesn't cure me, but it makes me feel a lot better.  None of these other allergy medicines does any good.  It's like drinking water to cure a cold. It's like saying an incantation to cure a cold. They are, in essence, useless; a waste of money. 

Yet I continue to take a Claratin and a Zyrtec daily.  It kind of reminds me of the 1980s when I took a atropine and Intal, and in the 1990s atrovent.  I never noticed a benefit from any of those, but I kept on taking them.  Claratin, Zyrtec and Singulair are like that.  You take them hoping they will help and they don't.  

In this sense, modern allergy medicines are no better than 1930s asthma medicine.  It might give mild to moderate relief, or it might give a pseudo effect -- but it does not control, prevent, or treat allergies. And since it doesn't do any of that, exposure to allergens results in allergy symptoms and asthma.  

I suppose if you had mild allergies, then the non drowsy allergy medicines might work.  But when you have severe allergies like I do, you better just stick to the Benadryl.  The side effect is you'll have to learn to put up with the soporific effect.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Asthma Stupidity

Okay, so I know I'm not the only asthmatic to do this.  But I've been feeling so good lately that I got ambitions about cleaning my basement.  Yeah, well, that didn't end up well.  Sure the basement started to look nice, but about a million dust mites made their way to the tissues of my eyes and respiratory tract, and soon thereafter my chest was tight.  

So that was yesterday.  One benadryl, a few puffs of my ventolin inhaler, and I'm fine.  So today my chest is tight, my breathing tight, and I decide I need a breathing treatment.  Now, it must be understood here that my asthma has been so well for so long I don't remember where I put my nebulizer.  So here I am looking all over for it, including under the bed.  So what's under the bed?  That's right: more dust mites.  

So now my breathing is worse than when I started looking for it.  

Then I end up finding my air compressor, but for some reason there is no nebulizer cup with it.  I search the house, and finally decide there isn't one.  When I clean I sometimes toss old nebulzers.  When I do it I'm feeling good, so I don't think that I might be jettisoning my only one. 

So that's three acts of asthma stupidity. My eyes are itchy and burning, my chest is tight, my breathing short, and my anxiety level creeping up.  The good news is Breo has made it so my breathing is not terrible.  And the irritable eyes and stuffy nose are probably worse than the breathing.

Benadryl works great for me. Still, I don't want to be tired at my sister's party tonight.  Claratin and Zyrtec are about as worthless as using white magic.  So here I suffer. 

Still, a gallant asthmatic makes sure he has the supplies he needs at all times, even when -- especially when, he is feeling well.  A gallant asthmatics also avoids his asthma triggers so he doesn't get into trouble in the first place.  But avoiding triggers is no fun, hence the asthma dilemma. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Asthma Theory: Was I right?

So, I have been gloating, of sorts, how Breo allowed me to have three months of albuterol-less time. Did I say that?  Was it really the Albuterol?  I had a really good feeling the answer would come as soon as the first pollen particle fell from one of those oak trees in my front yard.  I would be right? 

Now, Breo is a nice medicine, as are all the inhaled corticosteroids, because they treat the chronic inflammation lining asthmatic airways.  They reduce this inflammation so that it is less sensitive to asthma triggers.  It makes it so you have better control, but it also makes it so asthma attacks are less severe when they do occur.  

This would explain why, even though I caught two colds over the past fall and winter, my asthma never got bad enough to really hold me back.  It would likewise explain why my asthma rarely, if ever, gets bad enough for me to require an ER visit. 

So, anyway, I made it three months without using my albuterol.  This streak, I figured, would come to an end once the pollen started to fall.  Still, I was hoping the the Breo would continue to work well enough to control the inflammation and prevent bronchospasm.  I hoped, that if I did feel test tightness, that fifteen minutes of waiting would allow the Breo time to open those airways up.  

This didn't happen.  Since April 1, 2015, I have felt a continued tightness in my chest.  The albuterol does help, although only for a little while. This is sort of how it has been for most of my life when exposed to my allergens, with pollen and dust mites being the big two.  

I am now back to normal.  To me, this is good asthma control.  I can function quite well like this.  I can even run. This is a major step up from the childhood I lived with brittle asthma.  Yet it still means that Breo did not cure my asthma. The reason my asthma did so well during the winder months was because I was, in essence, living in a bubble: the snow was covering up all the asthma triggers. 

That's fine.  I can live with this.  After all, I've been dealing with it my entire life.  Still, it was nice to think, if only for a few short months, that I was finally on a medicine that would allow me to enjoy complete asthma control.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Albuterol-less streak comes to end

So, I had an albuterol-less streak from January of this year until April 1.  The streak came to an end about two days after I saw the first buds on an oak tree in my front yard.  I was lying on the living room couch, looking out the bay window, when my lungs started to feel tight.  

I used Breo, and, as I had become accustomed to, my breath came back within 15 minutes.  About 12 hours later my lungs started feeling tight again.  This time I was not able to use Breo, as it's only a once a day medicine.  

So I decided to wait it out as I had all winter long.  All winter long, when I started to feel the early signs of asthma, waiting for the Breo to kick in worked every time.  Yet this time this was not happening.  So it became apparent the streak was going to have to end.  

This was not the first time I went three months without using my albuterol.  Since becoming a bronchodilatoraholic there was only one other time I went a long time without using it, and this was in the winter of 2007.  At that time I credited Advair. I remember gloating about this to my physician.  

Yet was it the Advair back then, and was it the Breo this time.  I would find out on April 1, 2015.  

Friday, May 08, 2015

Three months albuterol free

In my past couple posts I've discussed my experiment with Breo and how well it has worked for me. Missing in all of this is that I went three months without albuterol.  This is an amazing achievement for me, especially considering I've carried with me, and used frequently, a rescue inhaler since 1981.  I am, in essence, a quintessential albuterolaholic

I noticed last December that I was using my albuterol less frequently.  Then I got a cold.  I figured the cold would end any albuterol-less streak, and I was right.  Still, even though my breathing got a little tight, my asthma never got too bad.  I was able to make it through the cold without being slowed down.  As soon as my cold was over, my streak was back on.  

So, I then went from January 1, 2015 until April 1, 2015, without taking any puffs of my albuterol inhaler.  In fact, it got so good for me that I stopped carrying my albuterol inhaler with me.  Instead, my wife kept one in her purse and in her bedside drawer.  

In fact, one day, as she was going through her purse at a restaurant looking for a coupon, she pulled out an albuterol inhaler and chimed, "Remember this?"

"That old thing," I said, in jest.  Wow! I thought.  That little blue thing looked so old, so yesterday.  It was as though I were looking at it through a cloud.  It was so hard to believe that thing had been so part of my life for so many years, and now it was no longer needed.  Amazing what modern medicine can do.

This was assuming, of course, that the reason for my albuterol-less streak was the Breo.  Was it?  I would find out on April 1, 2015. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

New Comic Book May Help Kids With Asthma

Medikidz super heroes are experts in health and healing.  They are featured in a new comic book series specifically aimed at helping kids understand their disease better.  Their newest adventure is aimed at helping asthmatic kids understand a disease we are very familiar with here at the RT Cave: Pediatric Asthma.

According to the American Lung Association, Asthma is one of the most common disorders affecting children, affecting over 7.1 million under the age of 18.  Of these, more than half, or 4.1 million, suffered from an asthma attack in 2011.

The disease prevents children from participating in activities they enjoy, and continues to be the leading cause of school days missed.  This prevents kids from living a normal healthy life.  And, as a former child asthmatic myself, I can honestly attest to this.

The good news is that once diagnosed, asthma can be both prevented and controlled. While physicians and parents can work together to find methods of controlling asthma, children must also be involved in this process.  In other words, good asthma control means establishing an asthma care team involving the physician, the parent or guardian, and the child.

The best way to start the process of obtaining good asthma control is through education.  While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of adults to help adults better understand this disease, there are few resources for parents to engage their children about asthma.

Look!  Kids need to be involved in their own care.  It begins by being aware of your disease and what you need to do to prevent and control it.  This is where the Medikidz superheroes come into play.

By parents joining with their kids, perhaps as a bedtime activity, the Medikidz comics will both educate and entertain, and ideally lead to an engaging discussion about asthma.

Medikidz U.S.A, with the help of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), have joined efforts in creating a comic book ideal for kids.  It features the Medikids superheroes in a series of action packed comic books called "Medikidz Explain Asthma."

While the Medikidz adventures are fictional, they do an excellent job of showing kids -- and parents too -- what asthma is all about. It's a great tool for parents to engage their kids in discussions about asthma.

The "Medikidz Explain Asthma" comic book launch will take place this Friday, May 8, 2015, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  It takes place in Washington, D.C., is open to the public.  It's a free event.

Further reading:

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Why does Breo seem to work so well for me?

So I started Breo in the spring of 2014.  This was a great time for an experiment, because the summer of 2013 was replete with plenty of bad asthma days. In fact, during that summer I had to make a few unscheduled doctor visits, along with my first ER visit for asthma in over 15 years.  

Amazingly, despite a severe allergy to pollen that caused sniffles and sneezes, this never seemed to evolve into wheezes.  The new medicine seemed to be working great.  I actually did very well all summer long. Surely I still had to carry my friend albuterol along with me in my pocket, but I was able to use it less frequently than the prior summer.  

The great excitement came in the winter of 2015.  Beginning in January I noticed that I wasn't needing my albuterol inhaler as much.  In fact, I realized that, even though I might feel a little tight at times, if I just waited it out I was able to breathe fine in about 15 minutes.  I decided this was the Breo kicking in.  

So I made it from January to April 1, 2015, without taking any puffs of my albuterol inhaler.  One theory stuck in my head.  About every so many years of my life my asthma got worse. It happened in 1981, 1984, 1991, 1998, 2000, and 2014.  

Every one of these times (except 1991) I was switched to a new inhaled corticosteroid: Vanceril in 1981, Azmacort in 1985, Flovent in 1998, Advair in 2003, and Breo in 2014. The result was that my asthma got better for several years.  This is not to say my asthma was ideally controlled, although it was tolerable. 

So, my theory was that my body responds well to inhaled corticosteroids, although develops a tolerance after several years.  Since every new inhaler is stronger than its predecessor, this made Vanceril better than nothing, Azmacort better than Vanceril, Advair better than Azmacort, and Flovent better than Azmacort, and Advair better than Flovent. 

Was my theory right?  The answer to that I figured would come as soon in the Spring when the pollen started to fall from the trees.