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I wrote recently about how allergy season scares me, mostly for the reason that I already have year-round allergies. So it’s a little crazy right now for those with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). I have already had a few asthma attacks in the past few weeks. Due to a thoughtful doctor, I can truly say my asthma inhaler is really helping me get through allergy season. 

I use a combination inhaler, meaning it contains both a steroid and a long-acting beta2-agonist. I use it as prescribed, as a preventative for asthma attacks. I always regret forgetting it on the nights I do forget it.

I have trouble sleeping partially due to breathing problems while sleeping, and partly due to circumstantial issues. Although I know the dangers of overusing inhalers, I think it’s worth it to use them, if only during the worst part of the year.


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It really helps me sleep, and I can rest peacefully without waking at 3 am. It allows a more peaceful sleep, giving me a more rested morning and a better, more stress-free day. I have learned over the course of the past few years that true, restful sleep allows the brain to refresh itself and rid itself of excess stress.

I am painfully aware that my lungs are inflamed much of the time, especially now. It’s been raining a lot where I live and my lungs don’t get along with the humidity. That is the lung damage I have revealing itself.

Read about experimental therapies for AATD

I also am not aware sometimes how very difficult it has become to breathe. It’s like my lungs have become hard, and using them to breathe feels like lifting weights at times. It happens subtly.

Since using this inhaler, it’s like the weight falls off temporarily. This also happens pretty subtly. But it didn’t take me more than a few days to tell the difference between using it and the way my breathing was before.

I know from talking to healthcare professionals that inhalers that contain steroids can have a negative effect on veins. I guess that would matter more to me if I didn’t have such severe breathing difficulties. I get poked every week for infusions.

Yes, my ability to breathe matters more to me than the long-term effect on my veins. I already have trouble getting infusions every week, because the long-term use of my rescue-inhaler and other things have caused my veins to be very fragile. 

The type or types of lung disease I have are long-term companions of mine, and it didn’t go away like most of my friends with childhood asthma. I hope to have a port-a-cath placed eventually that will make it easier to place an IV in my arm.

My doctors don’t seem to know if I really have asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, or a combination, but I do know that whatever I have, I can’t go camping anymore because of the massive breathing issues I have after the fact. 

I have never smoked in my lifetime, but for those of us with AATD, we have to be careful what we expose ourselves to over the years. The last camping trip I went on this year confirmed that for me. It was like I couldn’t stop coughing before I went to sleep or after I got up. The friend who invited me on the trip felt terrible about it.

Despite my doctor’s warnings to avoid smoke, I went ahead and did what I knew might be too hard for my lungs. The incident on that camping trip had never happened to me before but having infusions doesn’t make me invincible in the least. The incident just helped me understand I really need to help myself along.

Stress is always going to be there to some degree for all of us, but I am glad that I don’t have to worry about breathing issues during sleep right now, due to the inhaler I have. It’s been a godsend, and I am thankful for such an invention.

I am only 34 years old, with limitations, and there are some things I can still do. I want to maintain my current level of activity and lifestyle. 

While I am alive I want to live up to my purpose, and this inhaler is really helping me to do that in the middle of the rise of viruses and allergens ahead of me. Being able to sleep well will help me handle what I find to do today.