“I don’t know what life is like without asthma”
“I don't remember being told I had asthma as I was so young. My parents took me to the hospital when I was six-months-old. The doctors thought I had pneumonia to start with, then they realised it was probably asthma - though this wasn’t formally diagnosed until I got a bit older.
“I used to think early pollen was just a cold”
“When I was younger, I thought the sneezing and running nose were just signs of a winter cold, but it was really my allergy to tree pollen.
“When I was 13 my mum made me go to the doctor, as I was getting hay fever symptoms all the time, not just summer. The doctor told me it was year-round hay fever and recommended I start taking an antihistamine every day.
“In my twenties my allergies really flared up and I had a blood test, which confirmed I had an allergy to tree pollen and dust, which I already knew at that point – and I was then prescribed a more intense antihistamine, which is 100% a life saver for me. If I didn’t take it, I know my hay fever would make my asthma a lot worse.
“On the odd occasion I’ve forgotten my antihistamine, I’ve slightly panicked and left work early to go home and take it, as I didn’t want to risk feeling bad. Without it, my eyes swell up, they go puffy and itchy and the roof of my mouth is very itchy too. It’s horrible.
“Along with the antihistamine, I deal with hay fever by wearing sunglasses to shield my eyes and I take a shower when I get home to get rid of the pollen from my body. I also change my duvet and pillows regularly, as it can rub off.
“Asthma, hay fever and a chest infection is not a fun combination”
“I also get bad chest infections on top of my asthma and hay fever in the colder months, which can be hard. I do really worry about the cold and whether it’s going to make me ill, even though I’ve had the flu jab.
“I don’t like being outside for too long and I always try to remember to wrap a scarf around my nose and mouth, as I know that can help prevent an asthma attack.
“Other people’s reactions to asthma can be frustrating”
“I’ve had to explain to friends and colleagues on many occasions that I have all year-round hay fever, and that tree pollen and winter hay fever exists. Most people are shocked when I explain I have to take an antihistamine every day, not just in the summer.
“I find people react to my asthma in one of two ways. Some people take it seriously and are sympathetic, but they’re almost too worried – like I might die at any minute.
“But other people are the opposite. They’ll say something like: ‘Don’t worry about it. Take your medicines and you’ll be fine.’ I’m sure people have thought I’m being a hypochondriac, but struggling to breathe because you have hay fever on top of asthma can be very stressful.
“I have routines to remember my medication”
“I take my preventer inhaler every morning and every night. In the morning I take it in the kitchen while I’m making breakfast and I take it before I put the house alarm on in the evening. Having them in the same place helps me remember. I forgot recently because they’d been moved when we were having work done in the house, but this rarely happens.
“If I have a new medicine in my life – like a cream I was give recently for eczema, which I needed to use twice day - I set a reminder in my phone. There’s so much going on, it’s definitely the way forward.”
“I still enjoy working out”
“I haven’t let me asthma stop me from being active. I used to love running and exercising outside but found it harder because the tree pollen made it harder to breathe. So, now I work out indoors at the gym.
“I have a few blue reliever inhalers in different bags so I’m never without one. There have been times they’ve run out and I’ve not swapped them over. If that happens I amend my workout – I wouldn’t do any cardio, for example
“I take my mind off things by making fun plans”
“I think relaxation is important when you have asthma, and you need to be kind to yourself. I personally like to watch a good film, to take my mind of things and if I have stressful day, I try yoga to relax me.
“I also keep myself busy writing my blog, fittiefodmapldn.com, where I write about fitness and following a gluten-free diet – my gluten allergy isn’t related to asthma. And, I like to make loads of plans so I have things to look forward to all the time – like seeing friends, or going to new restaurants.”