Asthma and Winter

After finding out last year that I have asthma, I followed my doctors instructions on managing it last winter.  Come spring, I  gradually weaned myself off the preventer until I was able to go drug free for over 6 months during the warmer weather.  With the first cold snap around Easter and a mild cold virus, symptoms kicked back in again and I started back on the preventer.  I was nearly through my script though, so it was time to go back to the doctor and get a plan together as to how I should properly be managing this, as I felt like I was making it up on the fly with no real guidance.

Since we moved house at the end of last year, I hadn’t needed to visit the local GP and find myself a new doctor.  So off I went, was told how damn healthy I was, but that I should get a spirometry test to check things out.  I was booked in for the following week and, following some reading on the internet, took myself off my preventer for the week prior.  Luckily things had settled down and nights weren’t nearly as cold, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.  Turns out I did the right thing, although I probably didn’t need to stay off it for quite so long.

The test itself was pretty simple.  Breath out into a tube as hard and for as long as you can.  It took a couple of goes to get the hang of it and then turned out 3 fairly similar results in a row.  That gave us a baseline.  Then it was two puffs of ventolin, wait 10 minutes and go again.  All done and dusted and I was booked in to get the results later the same afternoon.

My GP was happy with the results.  They showed that I do have asthma, but it is very well controlled and has likely not caused long term damage to my lungs at this point.  After the ventolin, my output increased by approximately 5%.  He helped me put together a bit more of a plan on how to manage things.  Two puffs on the preventor each morning during winter, adding in two puffs in the evening as well if I start to get any sort of cold/virus/respiratory infection.  Ventolin as needed if I start feeling like I can’t quite catch my breath.  Then, as spring starts, as long as I’m not needing to use the Ventolin I can start backing off on the preventor with the aim being to wean off it for the summer again.

Other things I found out is that I have excellent lung capacity at approximately 120% of the “normal” for my age/sex/ethnicity/height.  I also seem to be taller!  I’ve “always’ been 168cm, last year at the GP I was 169cm and this year I have reached 170cm.  When I mentioned this, they re-measured only to confirm that I may even be a bit over 170cm.  Both of these things I’m going to give the credit to running (well, ok and genetics, especially for lung capacity).  My posture has definitely improved since I started running and I stand taller and slouch less.

So management has started.  I have a healthy baseline from the spirometry testing which can be used for comparison in the future.  I am more confident in what I should do daily and how to manage any minor issues that crop up.  Fortunately, other than when I had swine flu a few years ago, I’ve never had a major asthma attack and hopefully with good management, I can keep it that way.

Best part – all the doctors I saw (three different ones) told me to keep up the running!

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