Posted by: Marinda | 2004/12/06

Asthma Sufferer

Dear Doctor; I grew up in the Free State (Bloemfontein) and was always very healthy, never seriously ill. The only illnesses I had was suffering from Migraines and occassional bronchitis/colds. At age 23 my husband and I moved to Johannesburg, and I was diagnosed with Asthma. I was started on Ventolin and Flixotide. I am 28 now and my condition has since deteriorated even more. I am now using Ventolin and Seretide 50/100, with Combivent for the nebuliser. I have had bronchitis 3 times this year, and have been suffering from a lung infection for the last 3 weeks. I cannot return to my doctor as my medical aid is exhausted. I finished Tequin antibiotics 2 weeks ago, but am still not that much better. I still cough alot, bringing out mucus at times and my lungs/rib are are very sore. It sometimes sounds like an early morning smokers cough, but neither I nor my husband smoke and we rarely are in contact with real smokers. It truly feels like this is due to us living in Gauteng and the lack of clean air. We did move to Centurion last year, but are still working in Johannesburg. Do you think that moving to the Western Cape or any area with lower levels of pollution can improve my health? I am at the stage where I never have energy to do even the smallest things at home and even at work, including having fun or relaxing properly. This really worries me as I am a bit of a workaholic and a real busy body. My biggest hobbies arecleaning, painting (aritstic) and gardening, but since July I have just not had any energy and am constantly ill. This is really affecting my life negatively and feel that we do need to make a change, but I am not sure what to do. I did phone my doctor regarding my question of relocating, and she vaguely answered that she cannot depends... Relocation will be a huge thing, therefor we cannot act on ifs and maybes, it is not only the moving part,but also the career part. Please answer to the best of your ability, I cannot continue to live like this. I actually feel like dying, because then I don't have to worry about tight chestedness, constant coughing, severe headaches (not proper migraines as migraine medication brings little relief), very low energy levels, nausea, sleepless nights even though you are so tired you can barely do anything and just the overall quality of life associated with all of these symptoms. Things that used to be fun are no longer pleasant or a pleasure, it is strenuous to start the day most of the time, but then sleeping is also a battle on its own. Can you please help me? Kind regards, Marinda

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberDoc

Marinda, the best would be to go on holiday to the area you intend on relocating to and see what happens. It is the only way you’re going to know for sure.
The other thing is of course that you might not be on optimal treatment (you can definitely increase the Seretide®) or that the wrong diagnosis has been made. So before you take any rash steps, see a pulmonologist and make sure that it is asthma and that you’re being treated optimally. Good luck.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Poplap | 2004/12/06

Hi Marinda

It seems as if I am reading my own life story! I also grew up in the Freestate, and after moving to Centurion in 1999 I developed Asthma.

I was in exactly the same situation about a year ago (used my Venteze inhaler about 6 to 7 times during the night just to keep on breathing, and quite a few times more during the day) I went for adrenalin and cortisone injections at least 3 to 4 times a month, with combivent and pulmicort for my nebuliser at home.

In May this year I started seeing a personal trainer at gym, and it is the best thing that ever happened to me! I do not use my venteze inhaler at all anymore, but still use my beclate inhaler about once every three weeks (supposed to use it every day - cortisone). I do at least an hour of intense cardio with some extra weight training 5 times a week - what a difference to a year ago!

If you want to get fit for hiking - I can reccommend an excelent personal trainer in Centurion who helped me sooooo much by just letting me do enough excercise, but still keeping an eye on me so I don't get an attack in gym.

Reply to Poplap
Posted by: Sunshine | 2004/12/06

Hi Marinda,

I have no idea how to start this e-mail without sounding as if I know everything. Let me explain. In June this year, I was hospitalised with severe phenomia. It detererotated to such an extend, that I had to be put on oxygen 24hours. I spent a total of 20 days in hospital, where I thought I was going to die. Because of the coughing, I had heart angina, and very bad infections in my arm because of the drip. To make a long story short, after the 20 days had lapsed, I was re-admitted, 5 times(!!). I was at the Unitas hospital, and had the best specialist you can imagine. To my horror, I had to find out that I'm an asthma sufferer and I needed to change my lifestyle dramatically.

I'm on Symbicord 4 times a day, and at times, huge dosages of cortison. Asthma is not something you take lightly, and my specialist re-itterates the fact that you CAN actually die from it. Asthma needs to be controlled very accurately, and you need to know what the signs of an attack feels like.

I did a lot of reading on the internet, and that helped, but the specialist that treated me, also keeps me well informed. My asthma is now under control, but situations where you are exposed to either braai fire, smoking, even pet allergies, needs to be under control. Asthma is not a life sentence, but you NEED to take VERY good care of it.

I suggest you see a spesialist who really KNOWS about asthma and how to control it.

Hope all goes well.


Reply to Sunshine
Posted by: Marinda | 2004/12/06

PS. Apologies doc: whenever I use Combivent or any tablets prescribed as treatment for my Asthma, I actually get worse and feel worse than before I took it. Combivent used to be a great help, but now it only makes me feel even more tight chested than before and very nauseous (nausea to the full meaning of the word...). I have to use my Ventolin accuhaler up to 1 to 3 times daily to relieve symptoms.
We love hiking, and somehow whenever we go hiking my symptoms seem alot better...depending on the area and the wheather (overcast wheather is usually not good). We normally go hiking in Mphumalanga and the Free State and will also be hiking the Otter trail next year May. However, if I cannot manage to get fitter due to my health before May, I might have to loose out on that the moment I really cannot exercise, I cant even climb 2 flights of stairs without the world spinning around...

Reply to Marinda

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