“Just after I graduated from university I was on a long coastal walk around the west coast of Scotland with a friend. As we climbed one particularly steep hill I started to really suffer – I just couldn’t breathe, I was wheezing and my chest was tight. My friend has asthma and gave me a puff of his inhaler. That’s when I knew that I should go to my GP and have some tests.”
Know your triggers
“Although I often work on building sites, I have to be very careful not to put myself in situations where I’m breathing in the dust. I would be wheezing in no time and would hardly be in any fit state to film.
“I’ve had my fair share of colds which last longer than they should and I know they can cause wheezing so I avoid people who are sneezing like the plague and am scrupulous about hand-washing. I would hate to have to work in an office where colds go round and round - I’d catch everything going! Somerset (where I live) is usually damp – most of the UK is, really. I know some people seem to think rain is good for asthma but it’s certainly not good for me… but then, no two people with asthma are the same.
“Several years ago I woke up virtually every night for a couple of months - panicking, having the sensation of drowning and not being able to take enough air into my lungs. I was still on the standard steroid inhaler and kept being told to simply keep taking more of the stuff.
“People often don’t realise that not getting enough oxygen into your lungs can also make you feel sleepy, dopey or downright exhausted.”
“In the end a consultant put me on to some very strong steroids short-term - within three days I went from exhausted to superhuman. At my next visit I was prescribed a combined preventer and reliever steroid inhaler, which keeps my asthma much more under control.
“More people ought to know that asthma symptoms at night should not be ignored, and that other drugs might be able to help them if whatever they are taking isn’t working.
“People say, ‘But steroids must be so bad for you’, to which I say: ‘Without them, I wouldn’t be here.’”
- Working on a Grand Design of your own? Check out our advice on reducing asthma triggers during building work.
- What to do if your asthma symptoms are getting worse.
Last updated October 2017
Image (C) Glenn Dearing.