Adult Onset Asthma at 50, Ex-Farmer

Hi, I thought I’d add my story to the others. I was diagnosed with adult-onset asthma at 50, about a year ago. I’d been getting terrible shortness of breath, especially climbing stairs and, although no athlete, I was in better than average shape for a man my age. I was afraid it was COPD due to past smoking (I’d quit in the 90s) and working around nasty stuff, but my pulmonologist diagnosed asthma.

My first adult-onset asthma symptoms

My mother had asthma from childhood and her father had COPD. The shortness of breath coincided with weed pollen season here in Minnesota, which has just started again for 2020. We’ve got a few weeks of tough going ahead of us!

I had terrible dust and chemical exposure growing up and into my 30s, due to farm work. The last straw was in 2007. I had taken a job working in hog confinement barns. I had done this for a few years in the late 90s, and it didn’t bother me then. I also had a dairy operation for a few years in the early 2000s.

Decrease in adult-onset asthma symptoms for 12 years

I was constantly run down, wheezy, and losing a lot of weight. My pulmonologist at the time diagnosed Farmer’s Lung, although my blood tests were negative. Could have been something else, but close enough. I figured it was time to go back to a desk job! For the next 12 years, all I had to worry about were seasonal allergies that I could manage with OTC drugs. Then the summer of 2019 rolled around and everything went south.

My triggers

I am fortunate that I haven’t experienced a severe asthma attack and most days are pretty good. I take Flovent 2x daily and albuterol 3 or 4 times a day, as directed and I exercise as much as I can. My triggers include anything green and growing, strong cooking odors, certain pesticides, cleaners, and fragrances. Stress will also bring it on, so I’ve learned to cool it when I get wound up. Cold weather doesn’t seem to bother me, at least not yet. Neither does smoke, but I always stay upwind if I’m around it.

Gardening and cutting the grass with adult-onset asthma

The biggest problem I have is the house we bought last year when we outgrew our townhouse (I’ve got 3 little children). Nothing fancy, but it has a big yard that we wanted for our kids (moving did coincide with developing asthma, but inside the house I’m fine). I did some gardening this year which was manageable for me health-wise, but cutting the grass is exhausting and my oldest son won't be able to help Dad for a couple more years.

I have to wear an N95 mask, load up on allergy medicine, and do it in small sections. I’m going to have to scrape up the money for a riding lawn mower and will keep landscaping to a minimum going forward.

That's it, thanks for reading. I see that many others have it much worse than I, so I don't feel sorry for myself. Here's to good health for all of us!

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