Disclaimer: I worked on this blog post as part of a paid partnership with Sanofi and Regeneron’s Next Breath Challenge, a disease awareness initiative launched on World Asthma Day 2021 that highlights the importance of prioritizing better asthma control and demanding access to care.
This blog post is my story and is not intended as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor to learn more about the right path for you.
For people like me, the third week in September is a time that can cause extra stress. The mix of allergens coupled with increased germs as kids go back to school creates the perfect storm to trigger asthma symptoms, resulting in a week that sees more asthma attacks than any other time of the year. This is why understanding your level of asthma control is vital as we roll into the fall.
Thinking about Asthma Peak Week, as it’s called, has got me reflecting on my own relationship with asthma. As a teenager, it kind of settled itself and, if I’m honest, I almost forgot about it. But then, after moving to London and then Berlin with their different environments and allergens, my asthma became a problem again.
Discovering your level of asthma control
My asthma is triggered by allergies and has mostly been managed by my allergist (a doctor who specializes in asthma and allergic diseases). During allergy season in Berlin, I ended up waking up almost every night to use my rescue inhaler. My asthma management plan never changed because I never actually had a conversation with my doctor about how much I was using the rescue inhaler or the other ways I was coping with my asthma attacks.
Overuse of my rescue inhaler: uncontrolled asthma
If you’re thinking that using my rescue inhaler every night seems a lot, then you’re right. But at the time, I was using it whenever I had a problem, which is when I thought I should be using it. I only realized my approach wasn’t managing my disease when I was chatting with my friend Dr. Payal Gupta, who is an allergist.
She said that waking in the night struggling to breathe was not ok. So I went back to the doctor, who confirmed that my asthma was uncontrolled. It turns out that repeatedly using my rescue inhaler and waking during the night were clear signs of poor symptom control and therefore, uncontrolled asthma!
See an asthma specialist
Having a greater understanding of my asthma has helped me achieve a better level of control. It’s still not perfect, and there are moments where I find it harder to manage. For example, when booking a holiday, I have to look at the room environment and work out if anything is going to set off my asthma – is there carpet, is it mold-free, smoke-free, or pet-free?
I’m currently trying to organize an appointment with a pulmonologist (a doctor who specializes in the lungs and the respiratory system). Where I live in Germany, it’s a pulmonologist rather than an allergist who I need to see for my asthma care. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has delayed this process but it’s important that I see one to make sure I’m managing it as best as possible for my future health.
I encourage you to use Peak Week as a prompt to think about your asthma. It was only when I stopped to think (and chat it over) that I realized something wasn’t quite right.
You can also learn more about the types of asthma at The Next Breath, or more about asthma in general through the Allergy & Asthma Network. I also speak about my asthma and coexisting conditions on The Itch podcast with Dr. Gupta.
RES.21.08.0006 | September 2021
Kortney is your typical atopic triad who manages asthma, eczema and multiple food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!