two lanes of a traffic filled highway. One car is red and has radiating lines showing an emergency

Still Being Surprised by Asthma Attacks

Well, it's only been 20 years since my 3 kids and I were diagnosed with asthma, but asthma still surprises me. Sigh.

Those of us that have had asthma for a long time know what to do. Usually, we know what our asthma triggers are and how to avoid them.

Preventing asthma attacks

We know how important it is to use our controller inhaler every day to help our cranky lungs. Many of us have made sure our houses are allergy and asthma-friendly.

We try to carefully control our allergies because different allergies can trigger an asthma attack for those of us with allergic asthma.

But then there are those times when you have NO idea what triggered an asthma attack. And sometimes an asthma attack can happen at a really bad time - when you are driving to work and are on a very large and busy road and driving fast. Yikes! And to make matter worse, you are blocked in by cars on all sides and there is nowhere to pull over.

That's what happened to me yesterday.

Having an asthma attack while driving

And the scary thing is, I have no idea what triggered my asthma attack. I was driving to my office when I started getting a little twitch or tickle in my throat. I don't know how the rest of you feel when you have an asthma attack, but that is usually my first symptom.

I tried a drink of water, but that didn't work. Rats! Then the cough started. I knew this was turning into a fun little asthma attack. Luckily, I always keep my purse on my passenger seat, so it would be easy to fish out my inhaler and spacer.

I prefer using my inhaler with a spacer because I am very uncoordinated. In fact, I can't chew gum and walk at the same time! It's also easier for me to find my inhaler in my purse when it's attached to my spacer. Inhalers are so small that they will often fall to the bottom of a purse, backpack, or sports bag. Ever try to find a pack of gum at the bottom of your purse? It's always at the bottom! The same thing happens with an inhaler.

Inopportune timing

I don't recommend this, but I had to use my inhaler while I was driving.* I didn't have a choice.

*Let me be clear. If you can safely pull over to the side of the road or take a side street to stop and use your inhaler, do it!

Sometimes it can be dangerous to sit on the side of the road in your car. When I taught my kids to drive, I told them that "where your eyes go, the car goes." If people glance at a car on the side of the road, they can drift over to the side of the road and can accidentally hit the parked car. It happens.

Okay, enough #MomAdvice!

Back to my commute. I pulled into the parking garage and breathed a sigh of relief. I was a little stressed, so I decided to belly breathe to calm down. It's hard not to panic when you have an asthma attack, especially while driving. Belly breathing will usually help me calm down while my rescue inhaler kicks in.

I made it into my office and sank into my chair with a "phew!" That's something I don't want to happen again.

What caused my asthma attack?

I still have no idea what triggered that asthma attack. It surprised me because I take the same route to work each day. I don't know what I drove past (someone mowing their lawn?). Was pollen pulled into my car with the air conditioning?

Anyone else feel surprised by their asthma? Or can't figure out what triggered an asthma attack?

No matter how long you have asthma, it can still surprise you!

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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.

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