Christina Rogers remembers the sinus infections and congestion that plagued her as a child. Prescription and over-the-counter medications provided some relief, but only temporarily.
“To me, it was just part of life,” Christina says.
As a teen, she broke out in hives after a barefoot walk in the grass. Tests revealed allergies to the green blades and to mold. She was prescribed a medication to keep hives from recurring, but it had little effect on her sinus congestion or occasional bouts of bronchitis.
“With certain recurring symptoms, the body is trying to rid itself of allergens,” explains Dr. Felicia Baxter, a medical director for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “When symptoms of common conditions like a cold last for weeks, that could indicate the need for full respiratory or pulmonary evaluation including testing and imaging.”
The path to diagnosis and relief
Christina says her symptoms continued into early adulthood. Her primary care doctor urged her to see an ear, nose and throat specialist who ordered new allergy tests.
“It turns out I was allergic to just about everything,” she explains. “Allergy shots helped tremendously. But exercise-induced asthma was also something I had to address because I was experiencing shortness of breath during exercise.”
But the 90 minute drive to her doctor’s office proved challenging while balancing home, work and a new baby. That pushed her to seek a doctor closer to home.
Christina’s first visits with an allergy and asthma specialist brought additional testing. They also helped to confirm an asthma diagnosis.
With this, Christina became determined to manage her allergies and asthma more effectively and do more of what she loves – being outdoors. She checks pollen counts before venturing out and always follows the medication plan from her doctor.
“I find joy in so many more things now because I feel a lot better,” she says.
A doctor’s shared perspective
Dr. Baxter says it’s easy to attribute some symptoms of allergies and asthma to more common conditions. But as someone who has also had asthma since childhood, she knows the importance of diagnosing these as early in life as possible.
“No matter how long you or a family member have had symptoms, getting a diagnosis and treatment is critical,” Dr. Baxter explains. “Continual asthma attacks over time can lead to lung damage.”
If you or you child are experiencing any of these 6 things, you should mention it to your doctor:
- Hacking, dry cough that lasts for weeks
- Wheezing that can be heard
- Environmental or food allergies
- Mucous that continues long after a cold or allergy attack
- Severe snoring in toddlers or children
- A previous diagnosis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
“If you can’t do what you love, or if your child’s not able to play, that’s not good control of allergies or asthma,” Dr. Baxter said.
For more WellTuned articles on asthma, click here.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.