a person looking at a bent straw

Asthma and EDAC

EDAC is the acronym for excessive dynamic airway collapse. It means the "soft tissue of the posterior wall of the trachea bulges forward and touches the anterior wall during tidal breathing."1 EDAC can be congenital (present at birth) or secondary. Secondary causes include chronic airway inflammation, GERD, trauma to airways, etc.2

My experience with EDAC

So that is the technical information, now I’ll explain EDAC from my perspective, in everyday language. It feels like my air gets caught, like there is a big ball blocking its way out. Sound familiar? Couple that with asthma and my other breathing conditions and we have a party. Well, no we don’t, not really. In a previous article, I referred to my breathing conditions as playmates; I think in that scenario I am the playground. Maybe I am a party host!

How did I get it?

The list of EDAC secondary causes rings some bells for me. I have had trauma to my airway by way of surgery to remove a portion of my lung due to lung cancer. The airway trauma was an unexpected side effect. I have GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease. It was diagnosed when I was diagnosed with asthma. And I’m pretty sure my airways, large and small, live in a chronic state of inflammation. As I write this I think about the chronic cough I’ve had since July 2020. From my reading on EDAC, I’m pretty sure it isn’t helping my poor, floppy airway.

I have read that EDAC is underdiagnosed. One study says that this is "possibly because it presents with a variety of nonspecific symptoms similar to patients with other obstructive ventilatory disorders such as asthma and COPD."3 I have seen the CT images showing my goofy airway. My doctor had to explain what I was seeing but, nonetheless, there it was. There are still a lot of that questions I have. I always have questions, but it feels empowering to be armed with questions, even if I don’t like the answers.

Treating excessive dynamic airway collapse

I’ve known I have this condition for a while and I’ve taken my time trying to process it and learn more. It can’t be reversed. My doctor and I discussed some treatment options. Airway stents can be helpful but, when investigated further, I’m not a candidate. I cough too much and would cough the stent out pretty quickly.

Then there was the aspect of something foreign being in my body and the concern for infection, which my airway does not need. There are other options that may need to be explored but, right now, I’m fine and I manage. I keep all my little friends in line which keeps me in good working order, most of the time.

EDAC and my asthma

My doctor’s explanation of my chest full of issues is that I have asthma, it is often exacerbated by the conditions that also impact my breathing; and the reverse is true as well, these conditions also exacerbate my asthma. Stay on top of one and I will hopefully keep all of them behaving favorably. I am trying to understand all the aspects of my chronic conditions.

It is also important to me to remain vigilant in my care. The lessons I’ve learned since being diagnosed with asthma are numerous. It has opened my eyes to the importance of being an advocate for yourself. I have always been conscientious about my health, asthma has made me acutely aware of the responsibility I have to maintain my health. I no longer take good health for granted, there are too many reminders in my daily life to allow for such a carefree attitude when it comes to my health and wellbeing.

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