I was diagnosed with asthma five years ago and have, in the past, only needed a rescue inhaler a few times a month, if that. The last year, my symptoms have gotten worse. I don't have a doctor because I can't afford one, so when an attack hits, I visit the ER. The past six months, I've been to the ER three times. I am almost out of my inhaler medication and I'm wheezing rather badly. What can be causing this worsening of my wheezing? Is there a way to treat this without using an ER?
Hi there... you don't say what kind of inhaler you are using right now. If you're trying to use your rescue inhaler to treat asthma, that won't work unless you're only talking exercise-induced asthma or very mild, intermittent asthma.
I can't diagnose you as a nurse over the internet, but it sounds to me as though your asthma has moved up a notch in intensity over the past year. It could be that is just the natural course of your illness, but it is also likely that the reason your asthma symptoms are worse is because you are coming into contact more with some kind of asthma trigger(s).
Common asthma triggers are dust, animal dander, saliva or urine, tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores and insect droppings. Other things can be irritants, which are similar to triggers. They can include strong odors, chemical fumes, wood smoke or tobacco smoke, and powders/dusts (such as sawdust or textile fibers). Think about when your symptoms come on and try to figure out if any of the substances I list above could be coming into play. If so, work to eliminate them from your environment as much as possible.
Also, it is highly recommended that anyone with asthma be on a inhaled steroid every day (usually twice a day). You don't wait for symptoms to take this kind of medicine; you take it regularly and it prevents your symptoms so you don't have to go to the ER or use your rescue inhaler frequently.
Yes, it costs money to take a daily/twice daily inhaled steroid. I pay around $111/month currently, which I agree is ridiculous. But it must be costing you money to go to the ER too. I'd encourage you to go to an Urgent Care and get them to prescribe a couple of months worth of controller medicine (inhaled steroid) to get you started and then you can see a doctor or clinic who can monitor your condition at least once in a while.
PS You don't want to just let things go as they are. Continuous asthma symptoms can cause irreversible damage to your airways.
In the meantime, here are some links you might find helpful as you learn about your condition:
How to Asthma-Proof Your Home
10 Tips for People Newly Diagnosed with Asthma
10 Essential Asthma Terms You Should Know