Feeling tight?

** In this post, I refer to asthma brought on by small allergic reactions and triggers that cause a tight chest, NOT Anaphylaxis **

What do you do when your asthma gets the better of you? Maybe it’s not too bad, you aren’t wheezing or coughing, but your chest just doesn’t feel 100%. I often play detective and try to come up with a trigger for it. My main triggers when it comes to my breathing are cats, dogs and any other animals. It doesn’t even need to be present. Dander on clothing can get me. Especially if I get a hug from someone who is covered in dander. Other triggers for me are dust and mold. Those tend to cause more prolonged tightness for me.

All that being said, sometimes it gets a little frustrating. I do sympathize with anyone out there who deals with these on and off asthma flare-ups. Hopefully, you are like me and have your asthma well controlled so it’s these triggers don’t cause severe asthma attacks with wheezing and a really hard time breathing. One of my anaphylactic reactions to peanuts caused severe difficulty breathing which scared me more than anything else I have ever experienced in my life. Try as I might, the air I could inhale and exhale was extremely limited.

Throughout the numerous flare-ups, some worse than others, one thing my parents made sure I would never forget was to stay calm and not get excited and over-react. They ALWAYS told me to breathe, relax and everything would be OK. To this day, any time my chest is a little tight (not talking anaphylactic shock), I automatically take a deep breathe, close my eyes and try to calm myself down so I can assess the situation. Having an action plan that was created by the asthma clinic and my allergist on what to do in these circumstances has proved to be extremely handy. This action plan has helped me learn how to better manage my asthma and get a better understanding of how the medications work and why some work better short term than others.

Do you have an asthma action plan? If you don’t I highly recommend inquiring about how to get one. It is a great piece of mind to know it is written down and almost like a “cheat sheet” for those times your chest does not feel up to par. Maybe it’s a chest cold, like the one I had for weeks, that just lingers. Or perhaps the trigger is second hand smoke or pet dander. Whatever it is, it never hurts to be prepared.