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
So now, finally, I'm ready....
Hi, my name is Jazzy and I have Asthma.
Thanks for reading.
Note: Image credit: Bernenews.com