What is this sudden asthma?
January 16, 2012 4:49 PM   Subscribe

YANMD, but what should I do about my sudden onset allergies? At least I think it's allergies; otherwise my asthma just got really bad.

I moved to a particular coastal town for school in August, and by October I was feeling really terrible. It felt like asthma, really bad asthma, coupled with heart arrhythmia, which made the hypochondriac in me suspect I had watery lung syndrome. (FWIW I'd been to the doctor for my arrhythmia, and they didn't seem concerned.) It would go away for about five minutes with my inhaler, but then it would just come back again.

A friend suggested it might be allergies, and ever since I've been taking Allegra daily, I've been better. It's weird, though, because I have no other symptoms. I recently went back home for a month, and I was quite worried to find out that my symptoms were almost as bad as they were at school—I was taking my inhaler much more often than I ever had to before I moved for school. I've become certain, though, that I'm just really allergic to the trees here or something, and now it's made me more sensitive to ALL of my asthma triggers.

So basically, until I end up going to the school clinic, I've been self-medicating with a daily cocktail of Allegra, guaifenesin, my inhaler, and occasionally pseudoephedrine. Does anyone else recognize this type of "allergy," and what did you do about it? My cocktail works, but I'm just upset that I suddenly have to do this. I'm 21, by the way.
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It isn't unusual for people with asthma to develop new allergies when they change environments, per my allergist. Big sadface, I know. My hope for you is that the school clinic can and will refer you to a good allergist!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:04 PM on January 16, 2012

I don't have asthma, but I do have allergies. My past two moves to different cities to in different parts of the US have each increased my allergies. It also took until the second-to-most-recent move for me to figure out that a large number of my "colds" and sinus infections was due to untreated allergies. The latest, to the South, has made my allergies the worst they've ever been. I am now experiencing Oral Allergy Syndrome, actually, which has never happened to me before. I'm a woman in my early twenties.

What am I doing about it?

1) I got allergy tested in the last two cities I moved to as allergists test for local allergens.
2) I got allergy shots in each place. Starting bi-weekly and decreasing to weekly.
3) I faithfully take steroid nasal spray and a OTC allergy pill daily and rinse my eyes out with artificial tears. The steroid spray especially works through regular use over time, so you have to keep using it. But it is a godsend. I also sometimes use a neti pot.
4) When my allergy season is at its height (March) I increase dosages/medications as recommended by my allergist. And sadly still feel horrible.
5) I bought allergen-reducing mattress and pillow zippered bags and wash my bedsheets and pillowcases more frequently (you track in pollen, etc. on your clothes and hair and then it gets on your sheets).
6) I avoid the new OAS food triggers and hope to try them again in another three to four years.
7) I carry an epi-pen just in case.
posted by vegartanipla at 5:21 PM on January 16, 2012

I know you've talked to your doc about the arrhythmia, but have you told your doctor that you're using your inhaler more often that you did before? Allergies can exacerbate asthma and - IANA physician - your doc might be happier to have you on a long-acting inhaler than reliant on frequent use of a rescue inhaler, even if you do get relief from your antihistamine/decongestant cocktail.
posted by gingerest at 5:23 PM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Commiserations, from a lifelong allergy/asthma sufferer. I strongly suggest you go see your doctor again, and make it clear just how much you are using your rescue inhaler. If you are using it a lot (even just once a day is considered poorly-controlled asthma) then your doctor should be considering adding either a nasal steroid for post-nasal drip, or a steroid inhaler for coughing. I take a daily dose of an anti-hystamine, and follow a similar cleaning regime as vegartanipla suggests with bedding (I'm allergic to housedust though, which makes house cleaning even more important).

Oh, also ask about getting allergy testing done, to find out which pollens and other common allergens you are allergic to.
posted by Joh at 6:21 PM on January 16, 2012

Is this coastal town in Northern CA? Because living in the redwoods is notorious for practically killing people with allergies. It's the mold capital of the world, not to mention lots of people are allergic to the trees themselves.
posted by fshgrl at 8:14 PM on January 16, 2012

fshgrl: Nope, east coast. I suspect it's something about the South, too—I lived in Chicago for a year as well, and after a day or two of feeling like I had emphysema, I was fine.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 8:25 PM on January 16, 2012

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