Sunday, February 16, 2014

Post Asthma Attack

Asthma is long-term chronic inflammatory disease.  It takes a while for lungs to recover fully from a severe attack, sometimes days and sometimes several weeks. 
If you don’t have asthma, this might come as a surprise to you.  Nowadays, most people understand the basics of what’s going on during an asthma attack but the long term after affects are rarely discussed.  Unfortunately, when the initial asthma attack is over, you’re not okay.  You’re most likely drugged up on the medication that stopped the most acute breathing problems.  Now, you're physically and mentally exhausted and the body is trying to recover.

During this time of recovery, breathing will be shallow and you may have minor attacks.  You'll need to take it easy and be extra careful to avoid anything that tends to trigger your asthma, such as allergens, cigarette smoke, extreme temperatures, dust, or pollen.  Depending on the place you live, you may also want to monitor the air quality in your city and avoid spending time outside on smoggy days.  
It's possible that you may need to use a rescue inhaler and other medication daily or even a few times during the day to prevent another asthma attack.  The body might actively deal with inflammation, expelling of toxins and drug side effects which can be very exhausting.  Getting rest or a good night’s sleep might be difficult to achieve since the horizontal makes it much harder to breathe, exacerbating the body’s overall fatigue.  


For the sake of this article, I would like to discuss my most recent and asthma attack I suffered this year.  After the asthma attack, I was unwilling to cancel my plans despite feeling lousy.  I was supposed to go snow tubing with my family and I thought bitterly “that might just be the one place people don’t bring their dog, so I should go.”  
Don’t cancel!  
Don’t be a burden and ruin it for everyone!  It will be fun.  
Not as fun as if I’d be healthy since I will feel unusually cold, weak and sort of dazed.  
I might really benefit from the cardio and the positive social interactions.  
I will get fresh air deep into my lungs and I will hopefully breathe out some of the nasties.  
But most importantly, I won’t sit at home crying with my beaten down body trying and waiting to recover.  

So I bundled my feverish body into so many layers until I resembled the Michelin man and carried a hot water bottle with me for extra warmth.  I also ate a very minimal, but tasty breakfast.  After an asthma attack, I generally don’t have an appetite for and I can’t stomach anything but simple, clean and raw foods.


covered my face in anti-rash cream and make-up so that the post asthma boils on my cheeks wouldn’t make me look diseased.  For those who wonder about this part, I usually break out on my cheeks and upper lip after an asthma attack.
I felt like I was bullying my body to do what I wanted to do.  I did fine all day, but at the same time I wasn’t fine.  It’s like having the flu and you drag yourself places despite of it, forcing a smile and an upbeat attitude.  All the while you feel drained, heavy, achy and strangely floating through your day.  In these moments I feel like I'm not really part of life even though I want to be there so badly.  

And what are you supposed to do in these moments when you’re still feeling so unwell?  Are you supposed to hide in our own space until you feel better? Are you supposed to be all gentle and nurturing to your body or is it acceptable to kick your health into gear?  Are you suppose to hide how you’re feeling and doing or is it acceptable to share your pain with others?  The situation gets really squirmy for everybody listening if I say: “I had a bad asthma attack last night and I slept two hours, I’m hopped up on my medication, I’m feverish, my ribcage feels bruised, I’m itchy and I have large, gross boils on my cheeks.”  It doesn't seem like an acceptable thing for me to say today or any other day until I'm fully recovered from the asthma attack.  If you have asthma, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  It's really difficult to share with others what asthma does to you.  And too often sympathetic people like to come up with a solution or a cure:
- "Have you seen such and such type of specialist about your asthma."
- "Have you tried using essential oils?"
- "You should expose yourself to your allergens more and desensitize yourself!"  
- "You should drink apple cider vinegar!  It will cure your lungs!"

🙈 😳
Seriously.  Discussion what it's like to have asthma is not easy and it's why I share how it's like for me living with asthma.

Now the following list shows symptoms that linger after the initial asthma attacked passed:

Shortness of breath. Even if I say after the asthma attack, shortness of breath is a major source of distress.  Breathing may be shallower and more rapid and the muscles at the base of the neck and between the ribs may be more exaggerated than normal.  Being hunched over in order to make breathing easier, sore shoulders, back pain and a sore ribcage from lungs that expanded and weren’t able to properly breathe out during the asthma attack are physical long term affects.  However, in some cases it might be difficult to know how well one’s lungs function.  As a child, being medicated for asthma daily and under constant doctor’s supervision, I often did not feel as short of breath or uncomfortable as would be expected from measurements of my lung function or oxygen levels.  To my understanding at the time, my physical condition was significantly better then being in the midst of one of my serious and sometimes life-threatening asthma attacks.  Not until my later teens did I know what real breathing is like.  I wondered miserably, if this is how a normal person feels like every day, what was I doing?

Wheezing when breathing out is nearly always present during an attack and often afterwards too. Wheezing is a whistling sound caused by narrowed airways do to inflammation.  This inflammation will have to heal after the asthma attack and it can take days or weeks depending how severe the asthma attack was or how successful the asthmatic avoided exposure to new triggers (allergic or secondary triggers).

Inflammation. The end of an attack is often marked by a cough that produces thick, stringy mucus.  After the initial acute attack, inflammation lasts for days to weeks, often without symptoms. The inflammation itself must still be treated, however, because it usually causes relapse or could lead to chronic inflammation which can damage the lungs.

Sweating and flu-like symptoms.  An asthma attack is intensely taxing on the body and could sometimes lead to hot flashes during and after the attack.  On the other hand, in the hours, sometimes even days after the attack I am often unable to feel comfortably warm.

Skin rash, itchy and dry skin.

Fatigue and poor sleep.  Severe asthma really affects a person’s quality of life.  In the days after an asthma attack, I'm very easily fatigued and this can make the most basic daily activities a struggle.  Sometimes it is unclear if I'm fatigued from the attack or because my body is working overtime to fight infection, fighting allergens and thus uses much of my energy in healing processes.  In addition to fatigue and weakness, having trouble breathing can make sleeping at night difficult.  Poor sleep or the lack thereof then only worsens the fatigue. 

Coughing.  Coughing is one of the most obvious and outward symptom of asthma.  Coughing continues after the asthma attack as the body deals with the mucus and inflammation of the airways.  Sometime, especially in combination with a cold, this cough can be even more distressing than wheezing or sleep disturbances.

Chest tightness or pain.  While chest tightness and pain may be an early indicator of a serious attack, afterwards the ribcage in the chest area might feel bruised on the inside from the expanded lung during the asthma attack.

Rapid heart rate.  Over-exhaustion of the body and lungs may lead to a racing heart, but often the culprit for this symptom is a medication side effect.

 StayHealthy♡ Nina

If you enjoyed this article then you may also like my other asthma articles:
How to Rid your Home of Asthma Triggers?
Decontamination Action Plan
Allergic Asthma: The “Cure” Pushers
Psychological Effects of Asthma
Social Adversity of an Allergic Asthmatic

Thank you to everyone who takes the time out to read the things I have to say. I'm not an expert or professional! My advice is genuine and based on my own experience as a severely allergic asthmatic. I'm hoping my writing can be an example to anyone that may need it and maybe bring awareness to those interested in the topic.


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