My asthma story: Martina

“I was diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma approximately 6 years ago, when I was in my late 40’s. I had severe breathlessness for 18 months and I simply couldn’t get a full breath into my lungs. I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time. Some days were worse than others, and all I could do was lie down as I hadn’t the energy to do anything else.

I had numerous tests but nothing showed up. This was until I requested an allergy blood test, and the results came back with a severe allergy to cats – my readings were off the charts. I had a cat at home and it turns out that this allergy was inducing asthma. I had to rehome the cat and remove all soft furnishings from my home. I was prescribed inhalers and other medication to take at night.

After a couple of months my breathlessness went away. It comes back from time to time if I visit a house with a cat or if there’s a change in the weather. Sometimes stress causes the breathlessness too. I feel it’s well managed now, and I have just been discharged from the Respiratory Unit in the Mater Hospital as they feel my asthma is now well controlled.

I always thought asthma was more common in children and didn’t realise it could develop in adulthood or be caused by allergies. I also thought that the only asthma symptoms were wheezing and coughing. I didn’t have these symptoms - mine was severe breathlessness like I couldn’t catch a full breath. It’s important to know that there are a lot of different symptoms of asthma, and wheezing and being “chesty” is just one of them. It took so long for me to get a diagnoses that I would urge others to keep pushing for different tests.

I found the Asthma Society’s Adviceline invaluable, especially during COVID. The nurses were so helpful – not only did they schedule calls with me, they also called me to check in on me, which was very comforting. Although I haven’t used the service since I’ve figured out how to manage my symptoms, I would highly recommend the service to anyone.”

Find out  more about our services for people with asthma and their carers here.