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Asthma and an Ice Storm

Asthma and an Ice Storm

I had been looking forward to traveling to Seattle (from Indiana) to attend the US Asthma Summit for months. This one day conference put on by the Allergy and Asthma Network brings attendees up to date on all of the latest and greatest advancements and current challenges in the asthma world.

Being a respiratory therapist and a severe asthmatic myself, I love to attend conferences and learn as much as I can as often as physically possible.

Anxiety and asthma

What I enjoy about medicine is that it is always evolving and changing for the better. There are always new and improved medications coming on the market as well as non-medical treatment options as well. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and didn’t get much sleep the night before my flight.

When my alarm went off painfully early the next morning I checked the weather report to learn we were under an ice storm warning. Not what I wanted to hear as we had to drive 2 hours south to catch my flight out of a larger city than I live in.

I was already on edge as we drove extremely slow and cautiously down the highway to the airport. Being born and raised in Southern California my entire life and relocating to the Midwest in the spring of 2017, this was my first real ice storm experience. It was AWFUL.

Stress and asthma don’t mix

I am not an anxious person at all but this drive had me downright scared. My husband is an excellent driver and we were going really slow so – we were totally fine – but it was still a nerve-wracking experience.

Once we got to the airport I was completely frazzled and shaky. While I was walking into the airport I was having a hard time breathing. I doubt I actually did much breathing on the drive down because I was so nervous. Stress and asthma don’t mix. I had my rescue inhaler in my bag and I used it which helped a ton.

In-flight triggers

Once on the airplane we were delayed due to the ice storm and needed to wait for the plane to be de-iced before we could take off. By this time we had been sitting in the plane on the tarmac for over four hours. The air circulation was terrible and several times there was an overwhelming smell of engine exhaust wafting throughout the plane. Thankfully I had my fabric vented face mask (I have a vogmask, but there are many styles and types that can be purchased online) in my bag, and I was able to put that on to help filter out the smell and sudden bad air quality.

I found myself sitting there and just focusing on my breathing and I was able to get it under control along with my rescue inhaler. By the time the plane finally took off, I was breathing comfortably and fell asleep from the sheer and utter exhaustion from my early morning fiasco. I ended up sleeping for almost the entire four and a half hour flight and woke up when the captain announced that we would be beginning our descent into Seattle.

I got off the plane and still took it easy the rest of the day to be sure my asthma would rear its ugly head once more. I had the best time at the Asthma Summit the following day, and was very thankful that even though getting there was rough, I was prepared with my inhalers and face mask and took the appropriate steps to help keep myself breathing easy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • LeighAnn
    1 year ago

    TSA and asthma is no fun either. My asthma is still uncontrolled so my rescue inhaler literally NEVER leaves my side. Until security checks of course the last time I flew out of O’Hara I was required to put it on the belt with my other meds. Long story short, I had a full blown asthma attack complete with my obnoxious cough in the jam packed TSA area. So. Not. Cool.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi LeighAnn and thanks for your post in response to Theresa’s article. I can only imagine what your experience was like. Thanks for sharing it with the community. Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Theresa and thanks for posting this (very) timely piece. I found it interesting to hear you were able to focus on your breathing and get it under control. That is so demonstrative of how one can manage their breathing by staying calm and exerting some (high) level of influence over themselves. In my experience, seasoned and experienced asthmatics are able to do this when they set their mind to it. I’m so glad you were able to share that with our community membership here!! Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    1 year ago

    when I fly, I have learned a couple things to stay healthy and breath better. The air on planes is stale and dry. I carry a water bottle that I can fill once through security at a fountain then carry onto the plane. I think staying hydrated really helps keep me from having that dry throat, have to cough feeling. I also carry antibacterial wipes that I use to wipe down my seat, seat belt, table and any surface I might touch while in my seat on the plane. First, if there are traces of allergens, they are wiped away and it cuts down the chance I will catch a virus. A year ago, I had to drive through a blinding snowstorm to get to the airport in time to catch my flight. Strange thing is the snowstorm stopped before I reached the Grand Rapids airport and my flight took off in time. I remember coughing from the stress too. Hope you enjoyed your trip and looking forward to hearing what you learned at the conference.

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