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  • Understanding Asthma & Pulmonary Fibrosis

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on June 8, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    This coming Thursday, June 10th, I will be publishing a column on trying to better understand the relationship between asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. As most of you likely know; both are conditions affecting the lungs, but how they behave are very different. I’ve heard both sides of the story in terms of asthma and IPF: that they rarely co-exist together in a patient OR that they regularly do. What have you heard?

    I ask following a conversation with my doctor recently after I saw him for what-I-worried was an exacerbation of my IPF. Thankfully, a course of Prednisone and some inhaled steroids have helped and I am starting to feel better. After two other inhalers didn’t help me feel any better initially, my doctor gave me ventolin. I questioned him on this because I’ve never been told I have asthma and thought only asthmatics were prescribed ventolin. Turns out I was wrong on both accounts: 1) ventolin can be used to relieve symptoms for lung disease patients under the direction of a Pulmonologist and 2) I do have asthma.

    I was shocked to learn the latter of course, but it doesn’t sound like I’ve always had asthma. Due to the pollen and other environmental allergies seemingly present this year, my doctor mentioned he has been diagnosing a lot of patients with asthma, including those who already have pre-existing lung conditions.


    Have any of you also been diagnosed with asthma and IPF? 

    If so, what types of asthmatic triggers exist for you? 


    steve-dragoo replied 2 years, 8 months ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Libby

    June 13, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Hi Charlene,
    I hope I can help a little with your asthma-IPF question from my experiences. I never had asthma until I had a bad case of bronchitis ages ago, at which time my primary gave me an inhaler. Then years went by with no incidents at all until a couple of years before my IPF diagnosis, I began to have more frequent bouts of bronchitis and with those illnesses came sudden coughing fits that were asthmatic, in other words, I couldn’t stop coughing and was gasping for breath while feeling like my windpipe was closing up. They are really terrifying when they occur! The urgent care nurse gave me Ventolin so I started always carrying it with me. Then when my IPF was diagnosed and I started seeing a pulmonologist, she immediately started me on Ventolin which I use twice a day.

    I have found that during the winter the very cold air can trigger some asthma symptoms, so I try not to walk outside here (Minnesota!) when it’s too cold. I also find that my chest and throat do not tolerate very cold drinks anymore..they make me feel short of breath…so no more ice cubes for me!

    So I can’t answer your question about whether this combination is considered common or not, but it’s what I’ve got and the doctors don’t seem at all surprised. I find the Ventolin keeps the asthma under very good control..I have only had one or two “breakthrough” incidents. It is handy to use the inhaler before you exert yourself while exercising. I also use the Arnuity Ellipta inhaler for the IPF.

    I hope this helps a little!! Best wishes for sunny summer days 🙂

  • Charlene Marshall

    June 13, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Hi Libby,

    Thank you so much for this through explanation of your experience with both IPF and asthma – it is so helpful! 🙂 It’s always best to hear of others’ experiences so I really appreciate you taking the time to write.

    It sounds like some Pulmonologists will prescribe ventolin as part of managing IPF symptoms (with or without asthma) and others won’t; another inconsistency for patients with this disease. I’m thankful mine did, even before reiterating to me that I also have asthma (or “twitchy”/reactive airways) because like you, I find it gives me relief. I now carry one ventolin inhaler everywhere I go as well! Extremely cold winter days, and then really humid summer days also cause me to cough and be SOB. I’m learning how to manage it all, but it certainly is a long process and steep learning curve, isn’t it?

    Take care and nice to hear from you 🙂
    Thanks again,

  • steve-dragoo

    June 15, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    Hi Charlene – thank you for sharing this potential addition to our battle with IPF et al. Hadn’t thought of it but will ask if it is something to monitor and communicate if symptoms may arise.

    Appreciate your efforts… – Steve

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