For the past few months I’ve had this chronic cough that came out of nowhere, along with a wheezing when I breathe at night. I’ve also been getting short of breath by doing the slightest things. My doc gave me a prescription to treat post nasal drip in case that was the culprit but the medication hasn’t improved my symptoms. She also scheduled a lung function test which was this morning.
I’d done a lung function test once before when I was ten. The reason that time was the chest heaviness I had started getting. It’s fairly straight forward and apart from the potential to make you feel light-headed it wasn’t unpleasant. Put the plug on your nose and the tube in your mouth, breathe normally for a bit, take a quick, sharp, deep, breath in and blast the air out as hard as you can for six seconds. After repeating those steps three times they give you a bronchodilater and wait fifteen minutes before repeating the process. This is to see if your test improves with the puffer and if so how much.
The tech doing my test was a friendly woman who had an uncanny resemblance to Robert’s girlfriend Amy (Everybody Loves Raymond). It’s a lot more comfortable when the person your dealing with has a sense of humor. Immediately you begin to feel more relaxed. I did the first three rounds of ‘blasting’ the air out as hard as I could for as long as I could before I was given the medication.
Now, maybe it was the lack of sleep (I hadn’t been able to fall asleep come appointment time at 8:00 this morning), or maybe the fact that I had just been holding my breath and such, but after the bronchodilater was given I swear I felt worse! My cough increased and so did my light-headedness and shortness of breathe. My heart started to pound as well. Looking at the side effects now the cough is common, and so is the heart beat acceleration. And the shortness of breath I can attribute to the test along with feeling light-headed.
After repeating the test with the medication administered she said that she definitely saw an improvement in my breathing with the medication compared to before. She said the biggest improvement seen was a 10% increase (don’t ask me of what) and that they considered a 12% increase significant. Meaning with the amount that the inhaler helped she would have me diagnosed as asthmatic. She said that asthma’s not the easiest thing to diagnose because the test is best done when the symptoms are worse which happens sporadically in a condition with outside factors. But if there was that much of an increase without my symptoms flaring up that it means that I would have it.
So, there is my answer (hopefully). This diagnosis was met with mixed emotions. I’m glad that now I know what’s causing these things and how to help it but I also have a bit of a “not another thing wrong” kind of attitude. But I think I am more happy to know that this won’t be another one of those mysterious things that never gets fixed. The next step is to see my doctor and get a prescription for a Symbicort inhaler.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide