Last updated: August 2023
Aside from asthma, I have struggled with severe migraines since I was a teenager. They are debilitating to the point that I sometimes have to be admitted to the hospital in order to treat them. I do not always know when a migraine will hit, but occasionally, I will have something called a prodrome, or a warning of sorts, that a migraine is about to hit.
There can be different kinds of warnings that a headache is about to hit, but a commonly known prodrome is called an aura. An aura can be a physical symptom like fatigue, or upset stomach, or a neurological manifestation, like flashing lights or wavy lines in someone's visual field. There are many different prodrome symptoms, but they all mean that a migraine is inevitable.
Do I have an asthma prodrome?
Occasionally Asthma.net will pose questions to the community, either looking for feedback or to hear about the stories of those of you who have asthma too. A few months ago, we asked what kind of symptoms you experience before an asthma attack, or a prodrome if you will. Apparently having an itchy chin is a pretty common warning sign, although it is not something I have ever experienced myself.
In fact, I am not sure I have ever paid any attention to any symptoms that could be considered warning signs of an impending exacerbation. That is, until recently.
I know pretty early on when my breathing becomes labored that an asthma attack is coming. But I have never had the awareness to know more than an hour or so before my lungs go downhill. After asthma.net presented the prompt asking you what your warning signs were, I unconsciously began to notice a pattern.
Changes in my voice
If you have not read my article on losing my voice, I would recommend going back to read that before continuing with this article, as it provides lots of background information that is relevant.
I still have periods when my voice is worse than others. Sometimes I sound perfectly normal and other times I sound like I have laryngitis. I frequently get asked if I am "okay" because I also sound like I am on the verge of tears when I am having trouble with my voice. Sometimes my nerves can affect my voice, but other times it comes out of the blue and I have no idea why I am having trouble talking.
But I started to notice a pattern. The last couple of times I have had one of the "episodes" with my voice, I have an asthma exacerbation a few days later. There must be some kind of physical change that is taking place in my lungs a few days before an asthma attack hits. I could totally understand a change in my voice during an asthma attack, but I cannot figure out why I start having trouble speaking days before it hits. However, one thing is for sure: my body knows it is coming.
What do I do with this information?
I do not really know, to be honest. Even with forewarning, is it possible to stop an asthma attack in its tracks? I know there is not much I can do when I get a migraine aura, but is there any difference with asthma? I plan to talk to my pulmonologist about this at my next appointment. I am really curious to hear what he has to say and if he has any ideas on why this happens and what we might be able to do with this warning sign. The body is an amazing thing for sure.
Do you get a warning when you are about to have an asthma attack? How early do you know one is coming? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?