Sunday, November 1, 2009


By Shawn Vuong

This post from Dr. Holm really hits home with me.  In my late elementary school/early middle school years I was plagued with exercise-induced asthma.  When I would play in PE class or recess, my chest would just feel like it was tightening up.  The wheezing, the tightness, and the shortness of breath is very scary. 

My parents took me to a pediatric pulmonologist and I was tested for asthma.  Right then, the doctor prescribed me an albuterol inhaler, which became my life line.  After that, any physical activity that I did was preceded by a couple puffs from my inhaler.  I was too scared to have another asthma episode.  

Asthma is not just something that is brought on by exercise, but can be induced by allergies, pollutants, smoking, chronic disease, infections, or even stress.  Asthma can be deadly.  If you think you have some of the signs or symptoms of asthma I encourage you to see your doctor.  


By Richard P. Holm MD

A few years ago, a 40-something woman was walking across the farm yard when something in the air brought on wheezing, like gangbusters. She turned back to the house for her inhaler, but just couldn't make it, and collapsed in the yard.

While her husband was hurriedly driving her to town, she stopped breathing entirely. Her husband gave her mouth-to-mouth until the ambulance met them.

In the ER, we were able to place the breathing tube down, but her brain had been too long without oxygen. And a few days later, I will never forget how she gently escaped from this earth surrounded by her loving family.

This tragic death taught me how asthma kills. So what can we do to prevent a similar calamity?

First, recognize when you are at risk. Have you experienced an asthma attack that comes on fast and out of the blue?

Next: are you using your rescue-immediate-acting inhaler more often lately? I should add here that albuterol or any of the fast acting adrenaline-like asthma inhalers might cover-up or even cause worsening inflammation in the lungs. They only work for the short run-and increased use of these fast acting rescue meds is a big time danger signal.

Finally: know that when your asthma is accelerating you need to turn off the inflammation and our best tool to do that is a steroid. Not a body building type, but and anti-inflammatory which slowly turns off asthma for the long run.

That's the take home message: although fast acting rescue inhalers are good to have-they forecast danger. The real hero in this disease is the anti-inflammatory steroid inhalers.

So if you or your family member with asthma is using the rescue inhalers more than usual do not dally. You need to be talking to your doctor about anti-inflammatory steroids.

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