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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random asthma questions

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Question: can the Breathalyzer show a positive/negative due to my asthma or medications? I had one test show a positive of 0.12 and 20 minutes later show 0.00. how is that possible if the machine was calibrated correctly? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE PERIOD?

My humble answer: It's funny you ask this question, as I've heard it from other asthmatics as well. However, I have never heard any credible evidence that any asthma medicine would cause a false breathalyzer reading.

What asthma medicines are you taking? If what you are saying is true, it would be interesting to pin down which asthma medicine is accused of altering Breathalyzer results.

Honestly, I do not know the answer to your question, yet I remain curious

(Update 8/11/10: Check out this link)

Question: My mother (95 years old) was just diagnosed with asthma. Is this unusual?

My humble answer: Ironically, I was just reading something the other day about how more and more elderly people are being diagnosed with asthma, so I don't think it's completely unusual. When I come across this again I'll be sure to keep you in mind and send you a link.

Question: A nurse prescribed spiriva for my asthma. I thought spiriva was for COPD not asthma. Is it safe for me to use spiriva or is it the incorrect medication?

My humble answer: Spiriva is a safe medicine for both asthma and COPD patients. It is an anticholinergic medicine like Atrovent that acts as a bronchodilator, only it's taken once daily and works for up to 24 hours. There have been studies that showing Spiriva actually improved lung function and decreased exacerbation's in COPD patients. While Atrovent used to be used as a controller medicine for asthma, Anticholinergics are no longer recommended as a top line medicine for asthma as there are other bronchodilators that work better, such as Albuterol and Serevent and Formeterol.

Usually Spiriva is not the first medicine prescribed to control asthma. However, without knowing the rest of your medical history, and what other medicines you are on or have tried, it's tough for me to form an opinion on your NP (nurse practitioner) ordering Spiriva for your asthma.

As is noted in this post, finding what medicine(s) works best to control your asthma can often be a game of trial and error. Likewise, if you want to find out what your NPs plan of action is for you, ideally you should ask your NP.

Question: Which is better, singulair or pulmicort. Advair is to expensive but is a great product. Is there a generic for it?

My humble answer: At this point there is not generic for Advair. I have heard rumors that say Advair wil be available in generic form soon, but I have heard no verification of this.

Singulair and Pulmicort are two different kinds of medicines, and you can read about them in the links I provided. Which one "is better" basically depends on you and your doctor. Sometimes the best way to determine which one works best is by trial and error. Some asthmatics find Singulair alone works great to control their asthma, and some find that Pulmicort alone works fine. For some asthmatics, other meds or combination of them works best.

For a great article on which asthma medicine works best for you, click here.

Question: I have heard that there will soon be a generic version of Advair. How soon?I credit Advair with controlling my asthma enough that I seldom ever need my rescue inhaler. I am on Medicare and Advair is very expensive. Because I must take other non generic medications for other problems, I reach the "gap" of Medicare very quickly, so a generic version of Advair would be would be most helpful.

My humble Answer: I have heard similar rumors, but I have also not heard any credible evidence that the rumors are true. However, at the present time there is no Generic Advair available. As soon as one is available I'm sure we will report this news here on this site. In the meantime, there was a similar question asked here if you care to read more.

If you have a question you would like to ask you may inquire at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been suffering with a mild case of asthma for what seems like my entire life. I have recently changed my diet and exercise routine and it seems to have really helped with my symptoms. I also tried going to an all natural salt room. There is one near my house in NYC on 22nd st. I have only just started going, but I can honestly say, I feel better. If I find something that works, I like to spread the word!!!