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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceThe Healthy Trombonist(Moderators: Orestes, tbone62) asthma...anyone else have to put up with it?
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s3si1u

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« on: Feb 11, 2011, 09:25AM »

So here's a little background. I was born with asthma, it used to get to me all the time. Once I started music the asthma kinda went away. But yesterday morning, it hit me again. I felt horrible. I skipped school and work and had to cancel my lesson today. Like lots of us here, I'm studying to become a professional musician. Anyone else have to deal with asthma? Any tips to keep it under control? I want to pick up my trombone again as soon as possible
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BGuttman
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 11, 2011, 09:44AM »

See a doctor.  They have things called "rescue inhalers" that can alleviate asthma symptoms.  You take one or two puffs and get on with your life.

Long term, you need to find out what triggers the asthma.  And get it out of your life.  I had asthma as a kid that we traced to feather pillows.  So I don't use them.  When I travel I have a special bag that I can put over a feather pillow to keep the little hairs inside.  My wife loves feather pillows, but we make sure they are nowhere near me (separate twin beds).

We have a friend who gets attacks from musty books.  We purged her library one time and she has to be careful frequenting certain stores.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 11, 2011, 10:01AM »

Norman Bolter apparently suffers from asthma and has had to work on the "efficiency" of his embouchure more than most people due to his reduced lung capacity.

He gives some ideas on it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtUVqmpyfIA

Proves, at least, that if you put the work in there's no "glass ceiling" for asthmatic trombonists.
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 2011, 10:10AM »

I take Zyrtec, Advair and for emergencies Albuterol

Spring is the worst time for me due to my allergies, during the year Zyrtec is good enough, Spring and part of Summer I have to take Zyrtec and Advair

the best thing to can do go to a doctor to be checked and see what you need to control the asthma
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 11, 2011, 10:19AM »

If the attacks are really killing you, I know lots of strenuous exercise "solved" my asthma. I still have reduced capacity (as far as I know) but I haven't been plagued by attacks since then, and I live at 7220 feet above sea level.
Otherwise, get an inhaler and use it before you play. It really helped me back in the day.
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 11, 2011, 01:25PM »

I got kicked out of Basic Training about 17 years ago because of an asthma attack - didn't really know i had it until then.  I used an inhaler for a while and it went away so i stopped carrying an inhaler.  I had another attack about 4 years ago, relaxing and not panicking kept it under control - i used an inhaler for a few months then lost and haven't had one since.  I don't think it has effected my playing - in fact i think playing helps.
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 12, 2011, 09:53AM »

My triggers are exercising in cold-air, and cats.

The exercising in cold-air I manage by albuterol inhaler.  Also the more regularly I exercise and stay in shape, thet less symptomatic I am, to the point of no symptoms.  Symptoms are only when the exercise is strenuous, and the air is COLD.

Cats I only admire from a distance and I regretfully have to stay away from my friends houses who have cats.
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Patrick Bates

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« Reply #7 on: Feb 12, 2011, 10:11AM »

salbutamol (immediate relief) and flovent (anti inflamatory steriod).
Lots of good advice here, find out what triggers it. I'm pretty sure trombone playing helps me, as well as exercise.
First bad bout was brought on by a ragweed allergy, now I'm a little more prone to problems. Currently getting over a cold that turned into pnuemonia, doctor said use both inhalers for the next 6 weeks.......
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 12, 2011, 10:12AM »

salbutamol (immediate relief) and flovent (anti inflamatory steriod).
Lots of good advice here, find out what triggers it. I'm pretty sure trombone playing helps me, as well as exercise.
First bad bout was brought on by a ragweed allergy, now I'm a little more prone to problems. Currently getting over a cold that turned into pnuemonia, doctor said use both inhalers for the next 6 weeks.......
Haven't used them in probably 2 or 3 years.

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« Reply #9 on: Mar 01, 2011, 07:52AM »

I do have asthma and I'm in the same boat as you right now, but probably not as worse. I've caught a bug here in AZ that's playing hell with my breathing, especially since I've had asthma since 5th grade. There are a few things that I do to keep it under control:
First of all, see a doctor so you can know what kind of medicine you should be taking. I'm prescribed to albuterol, that works best for me.
1)Inhalers. They're your best friend. Keep them on your stand and use them. Only use the 'rescue' inhaler, not an inhalable steroid.
2)Invest in a breathing machine
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 27, 2013, 05:26AM »

I'll dig up this old thread.  I played through high school and college with my teachers constantly yelling at me to fill up the horn.  I received little training in other areas because my ability to play long phrases was so limited.  I quit playing.  When I was 42-years old, I moved to another state, got new doctors, and was asked what I did about my asthma - it was the first time I had been diagnosed.  Now I knew why I was unable to fill up the horn.

Now, at 65, I have returned to trombone playing.  I'm working at being more efficient and simply learning to play musically with shorter phrases.  I'm having the time of my life.

By all means, first learn what your triggers are.  Unfortunately, the most effective long-term medication for a lot of people was banned by the EPA a few years ago.  According to the FDA, the medicine was perfectly safe for me to inhale directly into my lungs, but the EPA said that if I breathed it back out it would destroy the environment.

If anyone has tricks for dealing with asthma specifically for trombone playing, I'd love to see you post.
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Matt K

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« Reply #11 on: Feb 27, 2013, 05:46AM »

Get a volumetric exerciser.  I love using mine, it forces you to take an effective and full breath.  Good!
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 27, 2013, 11:14AM »

I'm a trombonist with asthma and a doctor.  Some good suggestions above.  If you have identifiable triggers, then by all means avoid them if possible, but some are ubiquitous.

Medical management of asthma has come some way over the past 20 years or so, and if you have symptoms more than once or twice a week, some sort of "preventer" medication is generally very helpful when used regularly -- whether a steroid inhaler, which may also be in combination with a long-acting beta agonist (LABA, essentially a long-acting version of albuterol), or especially for exercise-induced symptoms, a leukotriene receptor antagonist taken in tablet form (e.g. Montelukast).  There are also several older and now much less widely prescribed medications based on caffeine analogues (e.g. Nuelin).  Albuterol (or Salbutamol where I come from) is the most widely-used "reliever" or "rescue" inhaler, sometimes used in combination with Ipratropium bromide.  Another commonly used reliever is Terbutaline, a drug very similar to Albuterol.

Bottom line, this should all be bread-and-butter to any family physician, so if you think you may have episodic breathing problems, get a diagnosis and a management plan tailored for you.
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 27, 2013, 03:31PM »

I read a while ago about a trombone player who was having weird breathing issues that cleared up when he went on vacation and took a break from his horn. Turns out, he was raising some nasty bacteria in there, and cleaning it out made all the difference. Evidently, he was cured. Ever since I read that, I've been pouring isopropyl alcohol into my horns once in a while. I don't recommend that (or rather, I'm not certain that it's a good idea), but it hasn't hurt any of my late '40s Olds yet. And I haven't developed any lung issues. So I'm just throwing this post out as a possibility. Good health!
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Patrick Bates

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« Reply #14 on: Mar 31, 2013, 04:59AM »

Haven't used them in probably 2 or 3 years.

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Got messed up twice this winter, wound up on prednezone the 1st time after riding it out with the salbutamol and flovent for about 3 weeks.  Been there done that about 3 other times in the last 15 years.. Doc sent me to an asthma cinic, changed drugs to Symbicort and no more issues (so far). Not sure what the triggers were this time, no ragweed this time of year and the allergy tests at the clinic showed ragweed and a minor in cat, but no cats in the house. Playin ghelps, the asthma clinic measured my capacity at about 4 litres and I showed up with almost no symptoms. Best I've ever measured.... We'll see what it measures when I go back in 6 months.
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« Reply #15 on: Jun 09, 2013, 06:57PM »

My trigger is cold air and humid air, so most of marching season I am not able to play as long of phrases and not as loud as I would like to. 
The main problem I have with my asthma is that I don't get attacks I get a slow build up of the symptoms that sneaks up on my so I will end up panting on the ground suddenly after realizing that I wasn't actually feeling out of breath but that is was my asthma, so I never have a chance to take my inhaler while the symptoms are still mild.
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« Reply #16 on: Jun 10, 2013, 02:53PM »

I can't believe I didn't post this a few months ago when I responded the first time.

I've been on a long, arduous journey concerning my pulmonary function.  For a significant portion of my life (2nd grade -> jr year of college), my doctors insisted that I had asthma.  Actue, chronic asthma (30% lung function) consistently.  I went for a 12th opinion at UPMC in Pittsburgh where it took the Pulmonologist approximately 10 seconds of looking at my CT scan that I did not, in fact, have asthma.  However, my symptoms were identical to asthma, but we couldn't figure out what it was.  So I went to see an allergist who recommended I go on an elimination diet to figure out if I had any food intolerances.  Oh, forgot to mention, the skin allergy tests don't work on me. I'm apparently not allergic to the "control" spot, histamine.  :/

So for a number of years I assumed that I was allergic to a plethora of items, the most notable were gluten and lactose.  I avoided them, and I felt much better, lung function was up significantly, 100%.  However, this was inconsistent, but I couldn't find all of the variables.  Cold weather and exercise caused bronchial spasms, but nothing else caused my problems 100% of the time, yet I still had problems. 

Long story short, a few months ago I started doing nutritional research, reading from a variety of nutritionists about a variety of diets and supplementation.  I started on the Genotype Diet, which is based on your blood type as well as a few other genetic factors, ("Change your Genetic Density" by Dr. D'Adamo) which led to the most consistent results by leaps and bounds.  When I followed the diet exactly as prescribed, I felt great and I could exercise!  However, every once in awhile I would have the same problem. So I continued to read.  I stumbled upon "The Magnesium Miracle" (by Dr. Dean), which outlined a very similar diet for asthmatics and those with lung problems to the diet prescribed in the Genetic Density diet prescribed for people of my blood type and genetics, but the reasoning wasn't genetics to Dr. Dean, it was about insufficient magnesium.  Basically calcium and magnesium are two of the most important elements in the body, but we're loaded on calcium on our contemporary diets. 

A rudimentary explanation is that: Calcium tightens muscles while magnesium relaxes them.  Both are needed, yet magnesium is not properly supplemented in our modern diets.  Phosphorous fertilizers are absorbed by plants more readily than magnesium, so we consume less of it than people did when we were a more agrarian society.  There are numerous complications to having insufficient Magnesium, and one of them is asthma and asthma like symptoms.  The calcium causes Bronchial contraction, and proper supplementation of Magnesium causes Bronchial dilation.  Specifically Magnesium Citrate for those with asthma, not the stuff you generally find in stores which is Magnesium Oxide.  I got mine on Amazon for a few bucks and WOW.  I take 200mg/3 times daily (60 minutes after meals) and I have never felt better in my life. 

That said, I'm not a doctor, so don't take medical advice from me.  However, I would highly recommend reading the two books that I mentioned if you have asthma.  The worst case scenario is you're out like $12 for the books if you decide it isn't your thing.
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« Reply #17 on: Jun 11, 2013, 08:56AM »

Hey Matt - what foods do you recommend for upping one's magnesium intake?

I've been "eating better" - not so much for the asthma but because I really like bacon and i don't want to have to stop eating bacon so i cut down drastically on the fatty stuff.  I also get more veggies.  I should consider something more structured.  Cutting way down on Dairy and white starchy foods has definitely made me healthier.

A also eat loads of raw honey and oranges.

About to go for a bike ride... it'll be 93 in an hour.  Yum!
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« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2016, 07:30PM »

Dig it up again, shall we?

I was diagnosed with Asthma at age 4. I've assesed my triggers. They happen to be cats and my pollen allergies. I take allergy medicine every day, and always take my inhaler before practice, but it always becomes unbearable while marching. If we're stationary, I can blow away and be the loudest in the band. But once that extra oxygen is needed for my muscles, I crumble. I always get the need to exhale, which is because I can't push enough air, I'm guessing. And by the end of the practice, I've taken a total of 6-8 puffs of medicine. I've read up on overdosing, and this stuff is lethal. Makes your heart beat really fast. I don't think I've felt any signs of it after or during practices. I'm currently playing an old 50H (.525). Should I go to a small bore, or would that just make the inability to push air quickly enough more of a problem? I tried marching a 5b one season. Killed my arms and my lips were dead really quickly. There's a portion of our Memorial Day Parade where I go up to a high G in "America, the Beautiful". Tried it with a 6.5AL and it's hard (after playing 2 songs and 3 quarters of the song that the part is in).

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« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2016, 08:11PM »

It sounds like your asthma is not very serious if playing trombone was all it took to alleviate it.

Start hiking and jogging. Take it really easy at first.  This has solved many a Soldier's asthma.
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