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    Is asthma a disease?
    Consue66 posted:
    I just spent a week in the hospital with bronchial asthma attack and was sent to see a pulmanary doctor today. He told me that asthma is not a disease that can be definitely diagnosised (he compared it to being pregnant. You are either pregnant or not and asthma is not definite like that). He said that the feeling of not being able to catch my breath and get a satisfying breath is all in my head. My brain stem is not receiving the signal that my lungs are clear and that I do not need to take a deep breath. So I am over extending my lungs. And if I dont feel better in a month he would put me on valium so that I would relax. Has anyone ever heard of this before? I am so confused. Thanks
    bresky responded:
    Hi Consue66

    Asthma is definately a disease, however there are many disease that do act like asthma. Many specialists rule out other disease before they do confirm a diagnosis of asthma.
    Did the pulmonary doctor do any testing? Did you have lung tests done? How did you present with a bronchial asthma attack? Are you on any medications for asthma? I have never usually heard of a pulmonary doctor saying it isn't asthma after 1 visit especially with no testing. Have you been on a reliever medication and has that helped your breathing?
    It seems weird that he would say that, are you following up with him are any chance you can see another doctor, did he see you in the hospital?
    amcate responded:
    Asthma is a disease, but the way I've seen it diagnosed is more from a constellation of symptoms. It can mimic other diseases, like a panic attack.

    It could be something like a panic attack, but they really should rule out medical conditions, like asthma, first. That takes time and tests to do. The tests usually are spirometry, allergy testing, family history, when your symptoms occur, age at onset, they might do spirometry and then give you medicine and then redo spirometry. They also have a challenge test, where they expose you to a substance that will induce an attack if you have asthma. They might do a CT scan to check for other pulmonology conditions.

    The only time I've had a doctor say it was anxiety was when the allergist had trouble getting it any better.....then I moved out of the pollution, and it got better, and when I showed him the new spirometry results, he said he was wrong. Sometimes they'll say "it's anxiety" when they don't know what else to say instead of saying, "I don't know".
    abbymay16 replied to amcate's response:
    If it were me, I'd find another doctor...when they go to the ANXIETY card and dismiss your symptoms as being all in your head it sounds as if his LISTENING skills are not great.

    They can definitively diagnosis asthma, and often pulmonary function tests along with a good history are all that is needed. Be your own advocate...if you feel this is a respiratory problem follow it up and make the doctor do the testing.

    Good luck,


    Vive Bene, Spesso L'Amore, Di Risata Molto

    (live well, love much, laugh often)
    suekelton responded:
    I was in the doctor's office 14 times in 12 months, and was told every time that I had asthma. I was given prednisone 9 times in that period and was feeling like the rest of my life was going to be a mess. I finally told my doctor that I wanted tests that would tell me if I actually had Asthma. He did a scope into the lungs and washed my lungs so they could culture the wash. He also did a methocoline (sp?) challenge test.I did not have asthma. I then went to my allergy doctor and had him test me for food allergies. I am allergic to 30 foods. I eliminated all of those foods from my diet. I have not been sick in over a year. The wheezing and coughing the doctors were hearing was from the drainage caused by food allergies. I feel like a new person. I have also have lost 25 pounds and am at my ideal weight. Good luck to you. Find a new doctor who will listen to you.
    TheresaGHWilliamson responded:
    You need to change doctors. Get one that will prescribe asthma-prevention inhalers like Symbacort or Advair. They prevent asthma symptoms.

    Asthma is not in your head, but in your lungs. You need to have emergency asthma inhalers available to you like Pro-Air, Ventolin, Provental. You need to have a nebulizer along with the albuterol nebulizer solution to use with it.

    You need to start wearing elasticized waisted pants/skirts/shorts because you will be able to breathe with your diaphram more easily. Pushing out your diaphram pulls air into your lungs.

    This doctor doesn't have a clue what it feels like to almost die from an asthma attack. My skin was gray when I got to the emergency room. I have dealt with this problem for over 37 years. Pay attention to how medications affect your body. If you find that something like Singulair makes your heart pound, tell your doctor. It did that to me and I refuse to take it now.
    amcate replied to abbymay16's response:
    I'm sorry, I just saw your entry. The system does not automatically say when someone has responded and so you have to find it out on your own.

    The doctor who brought up the anxiety card was when I lived in Houston. First, there was the family practice doctor who said nothing was wrong though I was losing consciousness for 5-10 minutes. Then I self referred to an allergist, and she said the family practice guy was an idiot. Then she put me on a bunch of meds, and they helped but it still had some problems, so I got a second opinion from another allergist. He was the one who played the anxiety card. He was board certified in allergy, asthma, and immunology and emergency medicine. He was questioning if anxiety was an aggravating factor, but it made no sense as I've had anxiety issues most of my life, but the pulmonary issues were at that time pretty recent and the two did not correlate.

    So, I work in healthcare and have a Master's degree, so I took a travel position to some rural areas as common sense says air pollution is not good for lungs. Then the spirometry values almost doubled. So, I went back to Houston to show him so he would learn. Because I've moved, I of course have a different doctor now, and I've sought multiple opinions from multiple doctors.

    Right now, I'm in NM. There are problems in the healthcare system itself, and sometimes no matter how much a person screams or advocates for themselves, they can't get access. If no one else can cover you under their insurance, you get sick and have to go to the doctor a lot so you can't work full time and don't have insurance through your work, and some health care issues take longer than 18 months, then you have no insurance at all. In addition, disability is not an option. I have briefly mentioned the problems here, but just understand that it's not always the patient's fault for not advocating for themselves. There are very real issues in the system itself, but it seems that some people don't want to hear that or understand that. Some people just end up blaming the patient for not screaming enough. I'm not saying you are one of those people, but I have met folks like that.

    I see it in my work as well. There are issues of deskilling which have occurred over the last several decades. There are issues of insurance denial, and holes in the system itself. No matter how much a patient screams, it doesn't matter in some instances. The overall standards of care have lessened over the last few decades. In the current area I live in, there are too many patients for each doctor. I myself have had times when my patient load was way too high.

    Simply telling a patient to advocate for themselves is not enough-the system itself has problems in it, and even those who are strong advocates can not correct all the issues in this current system. That's the reality. In the end, you do what you can....but what if making a doctor do something means you don't have money to pay rent? I was in that position a few years ago. You do what you can, and what you can do nothing about due to problems in terms of cost of care or the health care system itself, you have to accept because it's not in your control. Those who would criticize me for it need to then correct the current healthcare system. Again, I'm not saying that this is you, but I'm speaking in general.
    amcate replied to abbymay16's response:

    It's a bit off topic for the thread, but since my response included issues with the health care system, these are some funny youtube videos about it.

    If the links don't work, then type in zdoggmd, click on it, then look for the videos called Dr.Bobo and Hard Doc's Life (Hospitalist Anthem). The creator is a Hospitalist, which is a doctor specifically trained in hospital only care.

    You are right, and sometimes a person has to advocate for themselves Please understand that I'm wasn't saying anything about you in my previous post, but was referring to some people I've met along the way.
    BuzzAlong replied to TheresaGHWilliamson's response:
    Yes SueKelton, you have nailed it on the head: 'asthma is not in your head, but in your lungs'. But many of the triggers that aggravate the illness if setting off asthma attacks can be widespread.

    One person I know with no history of breathing problems developed sudden and severe dificulty breathing immediatly after a heavy chemical exposure at work.

    After being sent to a psychiatrist to see if there was a psychological cause, years of treatment only saw the asthma get worse. The asthma got aggravated from unknown factors and always when staying in some other towns where it became so severe it was expected to be fatal.

    But the asthma attacks would also occur when travelling out of town past a petroleum refinery which emits fluoride gas , or if using fluoridated toothpaste and given these factors, not so remarkably when drinking water upon arriving in a fluoridated city.

    On noting this, it was so fortunate that the asthma foundation followed up the enviromental factors and recommended testing for fluoride chemical sensitivity.

    The test showed a severe asthma attack came on after only drinking a small amount of fluoridated water. So finally after over 20 years of severe asthma, at last some long awaited improvement resulted where breathing improved enough to work again.

    So when psychological factors are used to incorrectly try and explain asthma, This could severely get in the way of a proper assessment of real physical triggers causing asthma attacks.

    It is clear in some cases stress can increase asthma attacks in some people. But in this case ( just as it might possibly be in the case discussed in this column), it certainly would have resulted in a sad outcome if the attempt to find a non existent psychological problem as the cause of asthma was the only therapeutic approach tried.
    amcate replied to amcate's response:
    I tried the links, and of course they didn't work. Just go to and search for zdoggmd and do the other instructions I typed above.
    amcate replied to amcate's response:

    Of course, the links I posted above did not work. Go to and search for zdoggmd and follow the instructions I typed above.

    Please understand that I wasn't necessarily referring to you in my previous post, but to folks I've met along the way.
    amcate replied to abbymay16's response:
    I owe you an apology if I overresponded before and ask your forgiveness. Please understand that I wasn't responding to you specifically, but other people I've met.

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