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Asthma, Allergies... and Me

Man hugging and stroking cat - a common allergy and asthma trigger
Getty Images / miodrag ignjatovic

New or untreated allergies can develop into allergy-induced asthma. Jamie Saunders explores his adult asthma diagnosis.

Hi, my name's Jamie. I'm in my late thirties, and - you guessed it - I have asthma.

I was rarely ill when I was a kid - just the usual childhood sickness, like colds and upset tummies. Never anything serious. My younger brother, however, was always a bit poorly. He had asthma, and I remember him wheezing and coughing, with Mom telling us to take it easy if we were running around the garden like nutters.

Mom was always a little more watchful of my brother and what he was up to. She was always on top of his medications, so his asthma was handled well.

Luckily, my brother "grew out" of asthma by his early teens, and I don't remember it affecting anything we did.

Fast forward 20 years, and now I'm the one with the inhaler in my pocket.

Had I developed asthma as an adult?

As the eldest, I was always bigger, stronger, and more athletic. I loved sports and was on all the sports teams at school. As an adult, I loved doing physical labor as a builder. I was also seriously into CrossFit, working out four to five times a week.

Then in my early twenties, I started to get hay fever every summer. It wasn't too bad at first, but it got progressively worse every year. One day, my other half came home and announced we were now the proud owners of a pet cat...

Soon afterward, we discovered I was allergic to cats now, too!

And then - bang! A few months later, I had my first asthma attack.

Allergies or not, asthma came as a shock

It was a typical day. I got up for work feeling chesty and had a mild cough. By now, this was nothing out of the ordinary. Although the cat allergy had improved, I was a smoker then, so feeling a bit chesty in the morning was nothing new.

But when I jumped in the shower, the coughing got worse. By the time I was out, all I could do was sit on the bed and concentrate on regulating my breathing.

Once I was well enough to talk, I managed to get an emergency appointment with my doctor. Luckily, the practice was within walking distance. So, off I went, stopping to catch my breath every twenty yards.

I saw the doctor quickly, had a couple of tests done, and was diagnosed with asthma.

One cheeky day off work and a prescription later, and I was good to go.

A handful of years later…

That was around five years ago, and – fingers crossed -  I’ve only had a couple more attacks since.

As long as I’m managing my asthma well, it doesn't have to affect my day-to-day life that much. I still work as a builder and do my CrossFit.

Sure, I get out of breath at work and in the gym quicker than before. But as long as I track my symptoms and don't push myself too hard, my body rarely goes into "crisis mode."

Overall, I’m lucky that my asthma isn’t too severe. Staying on top of managing it means it doesn’t stop me from doing anything I want to do.

And yes, we still have the cat!

Finding light in the situation

Lastly, having asthma hasn’t been without its laughs.

I've been friends with my best mate since school, and we regularly see him, his wife, and his two little girls.

On one visit, the girls were excited to introduce us to their new guinea pigs. Within 60 seconds of having these balls of fluff on my lap, my eyes were streaming. I was wheezing, and it was all pretty uncomfortable.

The girls stared at me with big eyes, wondering what was happening. Meanwhile, the guinea pigs were munching away on greenery like buttercups wouldn't melt in their mouths.

I'm over six feet tall and clock in at 220 lbs. Still, the girls have me wrapped around their little fingers these days. If I don't play the games they want, they threaten to set the guinea pigs on me!

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for the evaluation, management, or treatment of any condition.

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 


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