More than 20 million people in this country have trouble breathing because they suffer from asthma. An asthma attack can cause wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing fits. The respiratory therapists say the key to keeping the wheezing at bay may lie with you.. an adult with asthma.
Most people would welcome a nice leisurely stroll outside during the summer on their lunch break. As Julie Ward will tell you, it's hard to walk much less breath, when it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest. She has had asthma since birth and the humid weather only makes it worse for her.
Jean Snyders a Respiratory Therapist and Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator at Avera McKennan says, "Asthma is a chronic airway disorder. The airways are blocked or narrowed and there is also inflammation in those passage ways."
Julie says, "My parents said I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth as I was a rattle in my chest. I was sick a lot as a baby. I was sick a lot as a kid. The average cold easily turned in to pneumonia."
Some asthma patients also have allergies. Julie is one of the unlucky ones. She is allergic to practically everything and was born with eczema. Pet dander is one of them, so it's important for people with asthma to know their triggers and stay away from them as much as possible.
Respiratory Therapist Jean Snyders says, "If you take your medications like you are supposed to and work closely with your health care provider you can live without symptoms. A lot of asthmatics don't realize you can live symptom free."
Julie says, "One of the best things for me is self-management. It's hard when kids have it but you need to be regimented on taking your medication and you have to be up on your symptoms because it can come on quickly."
Julie says the medications available now are so much better than when she was a kid plus she is better at taking them. For her ADVAIR has been a miracle drug. She takes it once a day and that usually does the trick. Although, she also keeps her rescue inhaler in hand just in case since she can't always control her environment, she is ready to ward off an attack.
Asthma can be diagnosed at any age and no two people will have exactly the same triggers. Julie sees a Pulmonologist at Avera McKennan once a year. They've a established a baseline on her so when the doctor monitors the constriction in her airways and sees it's getting worse they can treat accordingly. She says it's made a huge difference in her health.