During National Asthma Awareness month we’re doing a deep dive with Dr. Rubina Inamdar of Dignity Health to talk asthma awareness. So far we’ve tackled big challenges and battled common misconceptions. This week we take on seasonality.
Is asthma really a problem for all people all the time? Or do you think some months, like May and October, are when most people are experiencing problems?
We hear people who say I know I’ll have problems in May and October of every year, so why do I need an inhaler all year around? While there is some disagreement among asthma doctors about what Mild Intermittent Asthma means for many patients, for majority of those patients, even when they don’t have symptoms, their lungs aren’t quite the same as people who don’t have asthma. Many of those patients may have extra inflammation, extra reactivity compared to normal people who are not asthmatics. There are also a group of patients who have learned to live with certain symptoms that they wouldn’t be living with if they didn’t have asthma. This is especially true for people who have been undertreated or haven’t had treatment for a long time – they’ve learned to just live life slowed down.
These people keep taking the elevator vs. climbing stairs. They won’t try out for the soccer team. They won’t play with their kids or grandchildren as they normally would have because know they get winded. And the answer won’t be, “I won’t do it for my asthma.” They’ll say, “I don’t feel like it” or “I wasn’t in the mood.” They’ve learned to live with a certain level of breathing problems and once they feel better, it surprises them how much they’d started to limp along vs. run through their lives. This is very apparent in student athletes who see their athletic performance improve significantly once they start treatment. So for people who think they only have asthma symptoms a couple times a year, I say perhaps we can see how different things feel once you are on the right kind of regimen.
Keep in mind too, that there are people who think using their rescue inhaler 3-4 times a day is normal. That is not normal and needs to be addressed.
And that’s where the Asthmapolis sensor has enlightened my patients, seeing that they or their children are really using their Albuterol that much. They understand that it has become normal in their life, but that it is not normal for a patient whose asthma is under control.
Finally, people can flare at any time. With climate change, we’re seeing unusual things. Sacramento had three very heavy rains in the middle of summer last year. Having been born and raised here, I’d never seen rain in July and August. It immediately led to high pollen levels and people who were usually fine in the summer where suddenly having asthma and allergy symptoms.
Sincere thanks to Dr. Inamdar for joining us in this series. Up next week: is digital health changing asthma care for the better?