Here’s How I Obtained Good Asthma Control
So, I’ve been talking about how well controlled my asthma is today. I’ve written more than one article about it. And this lead one reader to ask: “How did you do it? Asthma control seems like such an impossibility.” So, here’s my answer.
Practice managing asthma
My initial answer was this:
“So, you ask how I did it? Well, it took many years of working with my doctor and trialing different medicines. You really have to be open-minded about trying new medicines and being compliant. I had a hard time with compliance when I was a kid. But, what really helped was when asthma medicine changed so you only needed to take it twice a day. So, it really took a long time and a lot of patience.”
That paragraph pretty much sums up 48 years of asthma. Allow me to expound.
Factors contributing to asthma control
I had a very hard time with this as a kid. But, with all due respect to my past self, asthma medicines lasted only 4-6 hours. Like, I had to take Vanceril 4 times daily. Back in 1985, I was taking a theophylline pill three times daily on top of that. Plus there were other medicines thrown in there. So, that’s pretty hard to stay compliant with. As noted, most modern medicines last 12-24 hours. Like, you get up in the am and take your medicines. Then you don’t need to think about it again until bedtime. Nice! Much easier to stay compliant this way.
I think each time they come up with a new inhaled corticosteroid it’s stronger and safer. So, that’s why I try to stay open-minded about trying new things.
Okay, here’s something you really need to pay attention to. The only medicines I have ever experienced trouble with side effects are beta 2 adrenergics. Alupent was a rescue inhaler. It was awesome at opening airways. But, it would make my heart pound. Still, I needed it. Then they came up with albuterol. Now, regardless of how much I use, I don’t experience any side effects like that. It’s much stronger and safer than that old Alupent inhaler.
The two medicines that I had trouble adapting to were Symbicort and Singulair. I take both daily now. I wrote about my experience with Singulair here. I took it for many years and felt great. But, it was difficult to know for sure if it was really helping or not. So I quit taking it for a while. My asthma got worse. But, it took a while to realize why it got worse. Eventually, I started taking Singulair again. Now my asthma is better controlled than ever. So, it took probably 10 years for me to realize how well Singulair works for me. So, that’s why I say patience really helped.
Stay tuned to your body
Not easy for me to do. You try a new medicine. You experience symptoms. Is it caused by the medicine or is it just something that’s normal. Not easy to do. Some people are probably better at this than me.
Don’t give up on a medicine
I tried Serevent when it first came out. It made me feel very jittery. So, I gave up on it. But, my doctor didn’t. When Advair came out my doctor wanted me to try it. He said it helped many asthmatics obtain good control. I was afraid because it also contained Serevent. But, I eventually tried it. That was the medicine that really helped me obtain good control. I was 30 years old when I tried it. Singulair was also available at this time. And I took it on and off. But, it would be another 17 years before I realized Singulair definitely helped me.
Initially, when I tried Symbicort it made my heart pound. It was like when I first tried Serevent years ago. But, Symbicort is nice because it’s fast acting. Plus, it costs $50 less than Advair with my current insurance company. So, I didn’t give up on Symbicort. Now I take it every day with Singulair. A combination of these two medicines has helped me obtain my current degree of good asthma control.
What to make of this? So, it took many years. It took lots of research by researchers and new medicines by pharmaceuticals. It took great doctors keeping up with their wisdom and being patient with me. And it took me doing my own research, learning to be compliant, being patient, and having the endurance to keep trying new things.