magnifying glass revealing asthma triggers

Asthma Clue: The Trigger Mystery Game

I have written several blog posts about elusive asthma triggers, such as “The Case Of The Missing Asthma Triggers.” Sometimes we have flareups that persist and yet the trigger eludes us. That’s kind of what I’m experiencing right now. Finding that one culprit is akin to playing a game of Clue. You have the culprits. You know the weapons. And you have to figure out which one it is. Who did it?

The current status of my asthma severity

My asthma pales in comparison to when I was a kid. Someday I will write a post about my theories explaining this interesting phenomenon of how asthma changes with age. So, what I’m experiencing now is mild chest tightness and mild shortness of breath. I’d like to say it doesn’t prevent me from doing what I would normally do, but to say so would be untrue.

It’s causing me to use my rescue medicine. And, if you follow me, you know I went so long without using it I wrongly pronounced my asthma as cured. Actually, I quipped that "I Sold My Asthma." Of course, I said this in jest, knowing that this wasn’t true. And I ended that post with a disclaimer saying as much.

Figuring out the offending asthma trigger

And today’s game of asthma clue is a good example. Actually, the last two weeks is a good example. I’m having this mild flare-up and the trigger eludes me. But, I have some theories. I know who the culprits are. It’s just a matter of figuring which one it is.

So, here are the six suspects.

  • Mr. Chair. He sits idly by in the living room. He came from the moldy basement of a friend’s house. He moved to my living room because he is so cozy and comfortable. But, the fact he was stored in that basement may mean he’s covered in mold spores. If this suspect proves to be the culprit, it means banishing him from my home for good. That won’t make my daughter so happy. She has claimed that comfortable chair as her own.
  • Mrs. Pollen. She floats around outside, yet you cannot see her. But, as soon as those trees and plants start blooming she makes her presence known. Usually, it’s with sniffles, sneezes, and wheezes. But, this year, if she’s the culprit, her symptoms are a bit unique. Well, that’s just how it is when you have asthma. If she’s the culprit there’s not much I can do. My asthma friends will tell me I can avoid her by keeping my doors and windows shut. I can avoid her by wearing a mask when I have to be outside. But, I’m not a fan of either of these solutions. So, if she’s the culprit, I might have to just tough it out. I certainly don’t want to sit indoors when it’s so beautiful outdoors.
  • Mr. GERD. Yeah, he’s a nasty fellow who lives in my gut. I try to stave him off by using a medicine called Prilosec daily. But, those occasionally coughing spasms make it look as though GERD is guilty as all get out. But, still, this is mere speculation at this point. If he is found to be guilty, the solution will be the no fun anti-reflux diet. And, Lord knows, no one wants to endure that.
  • Ms. Dust Mites. LIke pollen, she does a good job of hiding. In the past, she’s been spotted hanging out on my baseball cards. I shuffle through, sort them out, and she makes her way into the air. So, you inhale and this causes the symptoms. Now, I’ve been spending lots of time with these cards lately. So, suspecting she might be the culprit, I’ve put those cards into storage for a while. If I get better in the next few days then I’ll probably know who did it.
  • Mrs. Respiratory Virus. This is my #1 asthma trigger. It's possible it could just be presenting itself in strange ways.
  • Mr. Bacteria. Same here. He could be showing himself in strange ways. (Note: A week later I went to the ER. My doctor figured this is what it was. Guilty! He was found hiding along the tissues of my airways in his typical fashion. His weapon: His sheer brilliance at causing symptoms and eluding capture.)

This is not a patented game.

It’s not limited to just me. I've met many asthmatics in my life. I've met them at the asthma hospital when I was a kid. I met them at work. I work with some of them. I've met many in communities like this. And I can tell you I know that most asthmatics sometimes have to play detective. What is the trigger? What do I need to get away from? And, sometimes, we have to play, "Asthma Clue: The Trigger Mystery Game."

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