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Newly Diagnosed

Confused

  • By artimeus

    Hello!

    I am posting on behalf of my husband who was recently diagnosed as an asthmatic. I am hoping to get some more info on this situation because it’s been a very confusing and stressful time these last few months.

    For some background, my husband is 30 years old and has never before been diagnosed with Asthma or had any breathing issues previously. He used to smoke cigarettes when he was a kid but hasn’t smoked in almost 10 years. As a child of an asthmatic myself I am just having a really hard time understanding how this could suddenly happen so I am just wanting to share our story and see if it makes sense.

    About mid-September, my husband came down with a nasty sinus infection. It got worse and worse and the doctors told him it was viral and he had to wait it out. After a few weeks it hadn’t gone away and had started to move to his lungs. He was coughing constantly. After a few more trips to the doctor he was then prescribed an albuterol inhaler and told to take it every 4 hour hours. He was also given codeine and antibiotics though the doctors kept saying it was mostly likely viral.

    After almost a week of being on the inhaler and antibiotics he wasn’t getting any better and was in fact getting worse. He went back to the Urgent Care clinic and they told us he needed to go to the hospital right away because he could have a pulmonary embolism and he needed a CAT Scan right away.

    We went straight to the hospital ER and were received by a very skeptical ER staff. They ran tests to check him for an embolism and determined he didn’t have one. They gave him a neubulizer treatment and his breathing which was quite labored by that point cleared right up. He was breathing like a normal person for the first time in weeks.

    They prescribed Qvarr and tesalon perles and sent us home. I stayed next to him most of the night and he was breathing fine. The perles helped with the coughing and the Qvarr seemed to be helping as well.

    When I woke up the next morning, he was barely able to breathe. We ended up going back to the hospital ER right away where again the gave him a nebulizer and it seemed to work at first then all of a sudden he went rapidly downhill into acute respiratory failure.

    Ultimately he had to be intubated and was hospitalized for 5 days. They pumped him full of every antibiotic they could think of. They told me he was an un-diagnosed child-asthmatic and that this was reactive airway disease ( a catch all term from what I’ve learned)

    The intubation – while it saved his life – caused a hole in one of his lungs and some subcutaneous emphysema. Luckily we were able to get him off the tube without a chest drain.

    He has been home recovering for a few weeks. His breathing will still get bad from time to time and he had to go into urgent care for a few more breathing treatments.

    His albuterol inhaler doesn’t seem to help very much so the doctors prescribed a nebulizer which is much for effective when he has flare ups. He’s taking Qvarr twice a day which seems to be helping the most.

    Smoke and certain perfumes seem to be a trigger that easily get him spiraling into an asthma attack where he has to take the nebulizer.

    I am just very lost and confused about how this could so suddenly happen. We’ve been waiting for a referral to pulmonary specialist for a few weeks now but it’s been hard just not understanding how you could just suddenly become an asthmatic to this level.

    Any shared info would be appreciated on this. Has this happened to anyone else? Is it normal for Asthma to just click on one day out of the blue? A silly question I know but I am just baffled.

    Thank you,
    -R.

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  • By Leon Lebowitz, RRT Moderator

    Hi artimeus and thanks so much for sharing the history of what recently happened to your husband. We are unable to provide medical advice or diagnostics over the internet (for your own safety), but your concerns certainly warrant a comment. We understand just how frightening and intimidating these last few months have been. After all the emergency and urgicare treatments you both have been through, combined with the unexpected hospitalization, seeing a pulmonologist would seem to be the right direction to go in. A specialist will certainly be able to provide a thorough workup and physical examination with all the appropriate diagnostic testing that will result in a proper and accurate diagnosis followed by a treatment and medical management plan.
    We wish you all the luck and hope that you will check back with us and let us know how he (and you!) are doing.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

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  • By Lyn Harper, RRT Moderator

    Hi artimeus – It sounds like you and your husband have been through a tough few weeks! I’m very sorry. It’s so confusing when we’re faced with such a situation and aren’t given clear explainations. I’m sure you understand, as Leon already said, we can’t give medical advice via this forum, but we can ease your mind a little regarding the asthma diagnosis.

    First, there is no question that the pulmonologist is the one that will be able to help your husband and make a firm, definitive diagnosis. However, although it may seem strange as you noted, it is not outside the realms of possiblilty that a person is suddenly diagnosed with asthma. With some people, there will come a point where there is a trigger – an infection, an irritant – and suddenly they find themselves having breathing problems, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It may be that they never had any breathing problems in the past or they may have had a childhood “asthma” that disappeared as they got older. I know it can be hard to believe, but there is definitely evidence that asthma can have a rapid onset, even with the severity that you have described.

    Once again, the pulmomologist will be the one to determine that conclusively. In the meantime, it sounds like you’re doing what’s working and what’s best for now.

    Please keep us posted and let us know what you find out when you see the lung doctor.

    Regards,
    Lyn (moderator)

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