A Full Breath


Peak Flow Meter

This month’s blog posts make me sick. Wait. That didn’t come out right.

All through April we’ll be discussing medical conditions, which can play a key role in any author’s story at hand. What speaks love greater than our lovely heroine nursing the fever-stricken hero back to health? Or a mother sacrificing her own well-being to stay with her contagious child?

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with asthma. Now I knew why I had struggled with bronchitis, tiredness, and shortness of breath. Treatment and going through immunology have made a big difference, so this week, let’s discuss asthma.

Asthma is a lung disorder that interferes with breathing. It can cause serious, recurring episodes of wheezing and breathlessness, known as asthma attacks. The trouble stems from chronic inflammation in the tubes that carry air to the lungs.

In people with asthma, the airways are chronically inflamed. Certain triggers can make the inflammation worse and cause a narrowing of the airways. At the same time, the body may produce extra mucus that clogs the airways. These changes work together to restrict the flow of air to the lungs. As too little air gets through, wheezing and breathlessness occur. There is nothing scarier than to wake during the night and feel like your nose and airways have closed in on you.

One thing I learned that surprised me was that frequent nighttime coughing can be caused by these constricted airways. I use to take cough syrup or cough drops, but they didn’t help. Two puffs of my rescue inhaler now halt the coughing in a few moments and I sleep better.

Asthma can appear at any age, but it typically develops during childhood. Those most at risk include people with allergies or a family history of asthma. Having a parent with asthma makes children three to six times more likely to develop the condition. Gender also plays a role. Asthma is more common in boys during childhood but in women during adulthood.

For optimal asthma relief, it’s important to participate in your care. With the help of your health care provider, you can get the best asthma relief by checking your peak flow daily, developing an asthma action plan with your health care provider, keeping an asthma diary, avoiding asthma triggers, and learning ways to manage stress. Getting the best asthma relief means staying on top of your asthma triggers, signs and symptoms, and medications to prevent asthma problems. For me that means no mowing the grass or going to places I know will be dusty.


Asthma-before & after

Using a peak flow meter may help you manage your asthma symptoms. With asthma, the inability to exhale air out of the lungs is responsible for many of the symptoms of asthma. A peak flow meter is an inexpensive, portable, handheld device that is used to measure how well air moves out of your lungs. Measuring your peak flow using this meter is an important part of managing asthma.

The Mayo Clinic suggests seven keys to prevention of asthma symptoms:

(1)   Follow your asthma action plan.

(2)   Get immunizations for influenza and pneumonia.

(3)   Identify and avoid asthma triggers.

(4)   Monitor your breathing.

(5)   Identify and treat attacks early.

(6)   Take your medication as prescribed.

(7)   Pay attention to increasing quick-relief inhaler use.

Ignoring asthma symptoms won’t make them go away, as I learned by experience. I don’t take a full breath for granted anymore. Meeting with a specialist and setting up an action plan made all the difference for me. It can for you or your novel’s characters also. 🙂

Today’s writing prompt: Angie’s hand shook as she grasped her rescue inhaler, her breathing impaired to the point of a panic attack. Could there be a cat in the house?



2 thoughts on “A Full Breath

  1. Wonderful article, Jennifer. One of my guys had asthma and the bouts could be scary. Spent several long nights in the emergency room. An asthmatic character can add interest and conflict to a story.

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