Asthma (from the Greek άσθμα, ásthma, “panting”) is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. (From Wikipedia)
Asthma runs in my family.
I had a particularly bad case when I was a child. My pediatrician diagnosed me at the ripe old age of 3, and I began seeing a specialist regularly.
My childhood was filled with nebulizers, multiple inhalers (bronchodilators and inhaled steroids) and topped off with prednisone.
I was on prednisone before I could swallow pills– I remember my mother putting it in vanilla ice cream (my sister was jealous that I got to eat ice cream everyday). But no amount of sugar could mask that which is prednisone. It’s the worst tasting stuff in the world– I have yet to taste anything nastier.
Everything seemed to trigger some kind of asthma attack: dust, horses, soccer, math…
Things got really bad when I was in 5th grade.
I spent two weeks in the hospital, one of which I was in intensive care, hooked up to a constant stream of inhaled medications. Bad news bears.
I’ve been hospitalized twice in my life, both times as a result of my asthma.
My inhalers were with me throughout high school and college. I continued to need them even after college. I can remember going to the gym, and then walking to the CVS across the street to get my shiny new inhalers– Albuterol and Flovent.
Then, about two years ago, I stopped re-filling my prescription.
At first it was out of laziness– I didn’t have time to go get a new prescription from my PCP.
And then, I just forgot about them.
And continued to forget about them.
A few weeks ago, my Dad asked me about my asthma. It was honestly the first time I’ve really thought about it in over a year.
“I haven’t need my inhaler in…wow…in, like, a year.” I told him. As someone who suffered through my asthmatic childhood with me, he was surprised.
When I think about it, I stopped needing my inhalers about one year into my Paleo journey.
It makes sense: asthma is a disease of chronic inflammation. I reduced my inflammation by transitioning to a grain-free, legume-free, mostly dairy-free diet.
I’ve improved my digestion dramatically and replenished those important gut bacteria. For me, my improved digestion is an indication that I had reduced inflammation.
Even though I don’t think about my asthma very much any more, and it rarely bothers me, I’m not sure that it’s cured. I’m thinking that being born with asthma is different from developing it as an adult– that it will always be with me to some extent.
I’ll always have a voice in the back of my head telling me that my lungs are different from everyone else, but I no longer have to appease that voice with an inhaler.
If I can Crossfit and run 5 mile races without my inhaler, I’m thinking I can pretty much do anything.
Have you overcome a chronic illness by changing your diet? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!