My Experience With Dehydration And Asthma
Last summer my asthma seemed to get worse. The same has happened this summer, despite my good asthma control. Last summer my doctor said he suspected it was because I was dehydrated. I have not seen my doctor this summer. But, I suspect he was right. Allow me to explain.
What symptoms do I feel right now?
Well, let’s just say I have an albuterol inhaler. It did not get used much between January and August. So, that’s pretty good for a guy who used to go through 1-4 inhalers a month prior to 2000. But, for some inexplicable reason, August seems to hit me. And it’s not allergies. I do not feel sniffly or sneezy. My eyes are not red and itchy, or at least no more than usual during this time of year.
But, I do wake up feeling short of breath. I feel like I can exhale for a long time. I can even make that fake, audible, expiratory wheeze sound. I have type #3 asthma attacks if you’re keeping track.
During lunch at work yesterday I had to excuse myself. I couldn't stop coughing. It felt I was producing excessive phlegm. Both of these episodes were resolved with 2-6 puffs of my albuterol inhaler. I do not feel perfect after using it, but I do feel a heck of a lot better. These symptoms do not stop me from doing my normal, daily activities. They are just annoying.
Why do I suspect dehydration?
When my doctor suggested dehydration two years ago, I did a double take. I just thought it was a dumb idea. But, after drinking lots of water for the next few days, I did start to feel better. This year my symptoms started after spending several days outside in 90-degree weather.
Look, I’m outside most days I don’t work. I live 2 blocks from Lake Michigan. So, you can bet we’re there a lot. During the past 2 weeks, several days were spent at the Lake. I also spent 3 days at my brother’s cottage. It was 90 degrees all three days. Then we spent 2 days at Michigan’s Adventure. After all, this is when my asthma symptoms started.
So, I suspected maybe my doctor was right 2 years ago. My theory was that all that fun made me dehydrated. It was very hot out. You sweat. You do lots of walking. And, Lord knows I did not drink much those days. You’re out and about, so it’s hard to stay hydrated. At least, this guy did a poor job of it.
To remedy this situation I decided to take a day off. The kids and I stayed home in the air conditioning all day. We did nothing but watch TV and play on our electronic gadgets. And the dad drank lots and lots of water.
This seemed to work. The symptoms subsided. The inhaler use significantly diminished over the next few days.
What to make of this?
Sometimes it’s difficult to know what triggers a flare-up of asthma. Doctors can’t see into your lungs. They have to go by their experience guided by common sense. And, this is how my doctor came to suspect dehydration. I like to keep up on these things, but not even I thought of dehydration. Now that it happened again, I suspect he was right. I think all the time in the hot sun has dehydrated me. The solution in my case is to make sure I drink ample cups of water every day -- especially on these hot summer days.
Does science prove dehydration may trigger asthma? I think so. And if so, how does it happen. I will delve deeper into the science of this asthma trigger in an upcoming post. So, stay tuned!
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