Whenever the weather is bad, so is my asthma. My lungs are extremely sensitive to humidity in the air and/or the slightest changes in barometric pressure. Changes in the climate, changes in the seasons, you name it…. my lungs will react to it. I’m a walking weather station!
Well, it’s been raining on and off here in the San Francisco area for almost a month now, and while I love stormy wet weather, my lungs absolutely hate it.
For the past week, I’ve been in that old familiar breathing zone that I call “asthma purgatory”. You know, when your peak flows are only slightly off , but you feel like your suffocating anyway? You’re tight, but you’re not gasping for air? You feel like someone is sitting on your chest, but you’re not wheezing? You’re sick, but you’re not sick enough to warrant an ER visit. Ever feel like that? Well, if you’re a chronic lunger , chances are you have. In my case I think the symptoms are due to a mix of air trapping and some mild airway obstruction caused by the damp environment and possibly by last weeks extra long walk.
For lack of better words, I get these “breathless flare-ups” several times a year, and unless the symptoms snowball into a true asthma emergency, I usually just ride them out by taking extra neb treatments, doing some diaphragmatic breathing exercises and basically just trying to chill . Sometimes I have to take a little Ativan to take the edge off, but for the most part there’s not much you can do except wait it out, which can take days or even weeks. I just wish it wouldn’t happen so close to a big race or an overseas trip…makes it even more nerve racking.
For me, the key to surviving these mini flare-ups without going crazy (or ending up in the hospital), is refusing to get stressed out about by them …..which can be very difficult when you can’t breath . Rather, than giving into the feeling of helplessness that these breathless bouts bring on, I will often tackle them head on by forcing myself to exercise despite my increased shortness of breath. This morning for example , I will go to the Gym to do some easy exercise. I probably won’t be able to spend much time or walk very fast on the treadmill, but the mental boost it will give me, will last all day!