Note: I am not being paid or sponsored to do this post.
This week’s Topical Tuesday post is all about asthma. I’ve put a spin on the normal Tuesday post because my asthma affects me more in the summer – so it really is a current affair for me. It’s got nothing to do with politics of course, but I’m collaborating with Asthma UK – a charity that helps people with asthma to share my asthma story.
When were you first diagnosed with asthma?
I was diagnosed with asthma back in 2014 after going to the doctors with a pain in my chest.
Had you had symptoms before then?
I had only had chest pain before then so I didn’t think it was asthma. I’d been a bit unwell and luckily the doctor checked for asthma and he was right.
What are your triggers and how do you manage them?
My triggers are my hay fever and exercise. During the summer I take hay fever tablets and have my blue reliever inhaler with me at all times. I also take my brown inhaler once in the morning and once at night to settle my chest.
Are they things you can avoid, or do you just have to be prepared in case you encounter them?
I can’t avoid either of them as my hay fever is caused by being allergic to pollen and exercise is something I have to do to stay fit. I walk a lot too so I can’t avoid exercise – using public transport often costs far too much money. So really I have to be prepared.
What challenges does being a student bring in terms of managing your asthma?
I only have mild asthma so I haven’t encountered any major challenges but sometimes I’ll need to slow down. As a journalism student I’m always rushing around so it’s important that I slow down. Sometimes I’ll feel my chest getting tight and that’s when I know to take a rest.
How have you got into good habits?
I’m going to have to start setting a reminder so I can remember to take my brown inhaler in the morning. I’m better at night because I have other things to do before I settle down whereas in the morning I’m go-go-go to get everything done.
Since my last asthma checkup a few weeks ago I’ve also been given an action plan. This shows what I use, my peak flow (which is how fast I can breathe out) and other information related to my asthma.
I have an electronic copy of this on my phone so if I was to have an asthma attack at university then it’s there. I haven’t had to use it yet thankfully!
I also have a number of inhalers in visible places so I can see them. My brown inhaler is next to my mirror and I have a various reliever ones around my house so there’s always one there when I need one.
I also find it useful to mark down when my asthma hasn’t been as good so that when I go to my next asthma check up I can tell the asthma nurse. It means I can see if there are any extra triggers or if I am developing a chest infection etc.
Do you have any tips or advice for other students with asthma?
Make sure you have your inhalers with you at all times and make sure that you are always stocked up. You don’t want to get to a point of needing it and then not having any puffs left.
If your asthma triggers can’t be avoided – like mine – then keep a diary of how your asthma is each day – if it’s particularly bad.
It helps you and your asthma nurse keep track of how your asthma is.
It helped me work out that my asthma is worse in the summer.
Why is your asthma worse in the summer? What do you do to cut down the effect it has on you? Has it helped?
My asthma is worse in the summer because of my hay fever symptoms. I get a blocked nose and that makes it harder for me to breathe so it means I can’t do as much exercise as I would like. I realised this when I went for a run and couldn’t breathe after a mile!
I also remember to take my hay fever tablet in the morning – if the pollen count is high so that it minimises the effect it has on my asthma.
Both of these things have helped keep my asthma under better control.
And finally – what’s the one thing you do that makes the biggest difference to your asthma?
Monitoring it to see how it is progressing – if it is getting worse or if it is getting better. My action plan and diary technique help to keep track of any changes such as new symptoms or needing to use my inhaler more – it is definitely useful.