I've had asthma most of my life (controlled w/steroid inhaler and antihistamines) Mostly problems result from allergens, but recently I've had problems from irritants, such as plaster dust and cement dust. I've gotten wheezing sounds deep in the lungs (heard by doc), lung spasm, and labored breathing. It takes numerous weeks to recover from this. Oddly, my peak flows stay in the normal range even though my lungs are obviously not functioning well.
I'm hoping to get some information about this irritant-induced asthma, esp as it seems different from the allergy-induced.
There are really no differences in the lungs in asthma with different triggers. It does not make much difference whether it is exposure to pollen or particles of dust, the airways react the same with increased mucus production, thickening of the airways and spasm of the airways. The reactions may be different depending on the amount of exposure and how you are doing at the time of the exposure.
Peak flow readings do not measure what is going on in the small airways. It is very possible to have wheezing, lung spasm, and labored breathing with decreased flow in the small airways and have a normal peak flow reading. I would speak to your doctor about temporarily increasing your steroid inhaler to see if this helps.
Thank you for your interesting information. If the peak flows aren't sensitive to the small airways, what are they sensitive to? Also, is there another test which can monitor small airway problems? I had spirometry when the irritant induced asthma was at its worst and it came out normal.
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