Finding it hard to breathe some days? In Chapter 13 of Dr. Afrin’s book I’m reviewing, Never Bet Against Occam, he talks all about mast cell disease and pulmonary findings. It’s a really good one with a real-life patient story you won’t want to miss so make sure to get a copy for yourself.
He named the chapter “I Just Can’t Catch A Deep Breath”, and again, he nails it. I have had this complaint for years, and would say those exact words. Or I would say “my lungs feel too small” or “I feel like I can’t breathe in all the way”. I even labeled myself a “shallow breather”.
Doctors would listen with their stethoscopes and tell me everything sounded fine to them (I’m normal! This is normal! Everything is normal!! Ugh.). Of course when I finally went to the allergist/immunologist and finally had a proper lung function test done it showed that my lung function was reduced pretty far in reality.
The good news is, once I got on the right medicines my lung function went up by like 1000%!! Well, maybe not that much, I can’t rightly remember the exact number, but it was impressive. So my mast cell disease was seriously impacting my ability to breathe right.
Dr’ Afrin talks all about this:
..it’s not surprising that there are relatively more mast cells in the upper and lower respiratory tracts than most other places in the body…
In the few years leading up to my diagnosis I had begun coughing up large amounts of clear, sticky mucus out of my lungs once or twice a day. It flooded from my sinuses, too, and I was drowning in it at times. I thought I was growing more allergic as I grew older, but it’s not allergies.
He doesn’t mention mucus so much here, but he does say that inflammation plays a role in the lung problems and many patients often report that they just can’t catch a deep breath (raises hand).
He also says that:
Mast cells may even play critical roles in the development of chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, which usually lead eventually to death.
Yikes! My estranged half-brother, who was bedridden with multiple issues and looked like he was dying the last time I saw him, has both severe osteoporosis and COPD. Both of these can be caused by mast cell disease.
I use an albuterol inhaler once or twice a day for my respiratory inflammation and was using generic Singulair with good luck for a few weeks until it turned on me (like so many other medicines do when I take them long term). My medicines, combined with trigger avoidance, have allowed me to increase my lung function dramatically. For the first time in my life, when I have days of total remission, I can take a deep breath.
The trick is getting to that point (total remission) and staying there. Heh.
Don’t miss my next post where I cover chapter 14 which is all about mast cell disease’s effect on our cardiovascular system. If you’ve ever had chest pains, racing or skipping heart beats or just, you know, thought you were having a heart attack but weren’t, don’t worry, he explains that (and more).
You can read the entire series of posts on Never Bet Against Occam by clicking here.
You can buy a copy for yourself by clicking here.