Asthma Awareness...

I didn't know until last Tuesday, May 1st, that there was such a thing as World Asthma Day, or that in Ireland, one person a week dies from Asthma.

I didn't know until last year, at the ripe old age of 49, that I myself had Asthma.

Since last year I've learned quite a bit about the condition, most of the knowledge being gleaned in the last couple of months from the Asthma Society of  Ireland website and their very helpful nurse on their very helpful helpline.

The first thing I was struck with upon receiving my Asthma diagnosis is how similar it felt to getting an Autism (ASD) one for my son all those years ago.

'It's not that bad... It's not real Asthma/Autism'  It's like I have mild Asthma you see.... The Lite version, so to speak. If Asthma, like Autism, were a Spectrum then I, like my son, am at the high functioning end. No-one would know.

So long as you cod yourself with the above then you are not properly managing the condition, especially at the beginning. You see there are consultations, interventions and management plans to be tried, tested and put in place to set you on the right road to controlling your Asthma. Or so it seems.

But first you have to recognise the symptoms of Asthma. There are quite a few and just like Autism, it seems that more people's symptoms are being considered to be Asthmatic these days than would have been heretofore. In both cases, in my humble opinion, that is down to better diagnostics and a keener understanding of the symptoms and conditions.

I believe that I am a case in point. I have suffered from a chronic annual cough from the age of 13. It is a constant, relentless, hacking, barking cough that develops from a cold, hangs around for at least 6 weeks, wakes everyone in the house and the neighbours too, before finally hobbling off, bored, into the distance to gather strength for it's next attack! I've no doubt such a cough may have even been cited in some poor couple's divorce proceedings!

At no time through my teenage or young adult years was Asthma ever queried. Despite countless, pointless anti-biotics, a couple of chest X-rays and completely stumping my GPs. I knew they were completely stumped when I was treated to such classics like... 'just stop coughing'.. ie don't give in to the urge and it would go away and .....' I think we'll just have to put a stick of dynamite down you'! Seriously, that was said to me!As appealing as that actually sounded (I was that desperate at the time) it would have been much easier to have just given me an inhaler back then! Imagine the difference it might have made....

Although the causes of Asthma are largely unknown there are some known facts and it is believed that the causes are both hereditary and environmental just like Autism). There are also some  known triggers such as allergens, dust, viruses, smoke and stress. It is to these triggers that I find myself now drawn in order to understand my Asthma. As the first two have been ruled out and as stress couldn't have been a factor at age 13, it is to viruses and smoke that I lean towards. Given that I lived in a house of smokers from birth and was a chronic passive smoker for many, many years it makes complete sense to me.

This belief sent me googling for articles about passive smoking and Asthma and I came across this one and this one .... oh, and this one too. It seems that we have learned a lot since I was 13 years old.

 It is confirmed in most articles I've read and on ASI's website that research shows a link between parental smoking and Asthma.

ASI's site also informs us that 'poorly treated asthma worsens with age and the lungs of people with untreated asthma function less well than those of non-asthmatic individuals.' I would seem to be bearing that particular theory out at present! I've had very recent experience of a 'tight chest' and an inability to draw a full breath. That is a scary experience , for an adult. I can only imagine how it must be for a child or teenager.

Apart from raising Asthma awareness with this post I have two messages to impart to you...

  •  If you, your child or teenager have similar symptoms to mine then PLEASE discuss the possibility of Asthma with your GP and get a referral to a respiratory clinic. 
  • PLEASE do not smoke where there are children, inside or outside the house and in the car. Please protect their lungs and consider the lungs of others too. Do not wait for laws to be introduced.

I continue on my Asthma journey realising that the road to recovery management is acceptance.

So now, finally, I'm ready....

Hi, my name is Jazzy and I have Asthma.

Do you?

Thanks for reading.


Note: Image credit:


  1. You know Alex has asthma....and I never thought he did till he darn near died. I thought the symptoms were weezing and coughing. All my information was old and outdated. He was not diagnosed till he was six when he was having a full on asthma attack that I thought was a cold. We took him in and they got him squared away but God, I still feel like an idiot.

    Thanks Jazzy for putting this out there. Maybe it will help someone like me who flat out had the wrong information. :)

  2. @Lizbeth: How very, VERY scary that must have been. You are not an idiot though, it can be a hard one to call. It's not always just about the obvious symptoms like a tightness in the chest, inability to breathe and wheezing. A tough one but at least you know now with Alex and hopefully his asthma is under control.

    My boy was diagnosed with it too, when he was 2 and a half. And STILL I didn't connect it to my annual barking fest!

    I hope this post...and your comment....helps in some small way:-)

    Thanks for comment:-)

    xx Jazzy

  3. My son has just been diagnosed with it he is 3 years old and we knew from when he was around one that he had it but the doctors wouldn't do anything as he was so young, So I kept pushing them until they finally listened to me he now has a brown inhaler and a blue one to take.

  4. I always used to feel very sad seeing so many kiddies gasping for breath in A&E at our local children's hospital in the days when we were regular visitors. It is certainly growing problem, and good to raise awareness for parents *off to share* xx

  5. Excellent advice Val. Australia is very asthma aware as we have a lot of northern hemisphere flora which pretty much flowers all the time because of the climate. As a result, a lot of kids are thrown into swimming lessons to learn to "breathe" as swimming is fantastic for teaching that rhythm.
    Another reason why we do so well in the Olympics!

  6. @NIKKI Moore: I am so glad they listened to you Nikki. It's really hard to give the inhalers to small children. I remember the little mask/chamber thing we had to use! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    @Blue Sky: it is indeed scary to witness. Thank you for sharing...much appreciated :-)

    @Lisadom: So that's the answer....swimming! I could do with some breathing lessons atm :-)

    Thanks for your comments :-)

    xx Jazzy

  7. I was diagnosed at the age of 2. I had moderate asthma as a child, my mum was very good at managing it, so I never had a hospital admission. A schoolfriend died of it at the age of 7. This scared me a lot.

    As I've got older its got better, but often I have "silent" attacks which are really scary. A wheeze can't be detected, I don't cough, my airways just silently close down. I've had lots of issues with doctors not understanding my symptoms.

    I'm very pleased that it has got better as I've got older so all the treatment has worked.

    I'm glad you finally have a diagnosis.

  8. @Kylie: That sounds incredibly scary Kylie and how awful that such a young friend died from Asthma. I can't say I've suffered such an attack. I've never had an Asthma attack and that's why I've beensaying 'I don't have REAL asthma'! But everyone's symptoms differs and that, I guess is the point. As both you and I say even the Doctors can misunderstand!

    I too am glad I finally have a diagnosis and now I need to get it under control. Have 3rd appointment since December with consultant coming up!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment:-)

    xx Jazzy

  9. Thanks for highlighting this Jazzy... People don't often realise how serious it is. My Five Year old has it and it petrifies me, but luckily we have always been taken seriously. xx

  10. Thank you for an interesting post, you have made me think about how tight my chest gets and how I also battle to take a breath at times. However, foolishly I was a smoker! :(
    I am glad that you finally found out what was causing your symptoms, even though it took so long!

  11. @BavarianSojourn: I'm glad that you're taken seriously with your 5 yo...must be absolutely terrifying for you.

    @The Bright Side of Life: Maybe you should ask for a referral! I had to go back to my consultant this week and he asked if I ever smoked. Told him what I said above: 'I passive smoked for many years! Also told him that I blame my asthma on that...he didn't argue with me!

    Thanks for your comments :-)

    xx Jazzy


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