Continuing with my story…This isn’t really an incident, per say, that has to do with my diagnosis, but there is some correlation.
My asthma was continuing to get worse, but in addition, my nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis) were also getting worse. Something I haven’t mentioned in any previous posts is that for quite some years (maybe 15 – 20) I have had almost no sense of smell. Most of the time I didn’t really think about this unless someone said to me “Oh, smell this!”, or “Doesn’t that smell good?”, or “Eww, what’s that smell?” In the case of the latter, I thought my lack of smell was a great thing! (This was a great feature for my friends that wanted to pass gas around me! Haha…I could care less!) As the years went on, it only rarely bothered me when I wanted to smell flowers, baked goods, or something else that I knew smelled good. From time to time I would have a brief sense of smell and I’d get a whiff of something, but otherwise, it just wasn’t there, and I just didn’t really think about it. Until a few years ago…
I really started to wonder why I couldn’t smell and what that actually meant. I realize that the body is a complex system and sometimes it’s trying to tell us that something is wrong, but we don’t always pay attention to it. It’s difficult to know when to pay attention, and when you might just be overreacting, but I think after that many years it was time to pay attention to it. So, I went to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor). This happened some time before I started seeing my new asthma doctor, so I am backtracking a little bit here. The ENT decided it was best, and I guess the protocol, to just experiment with different medications to find one that was right. UGH…more medications. I’ve always hated medications, so I wasn’t looking forward to this, but since my allergic rhinitis was getting worse I decided to give it a go in the hope that I would be able to breathe again. Between having an asthma attack and not being able to breathe out of my nose, I was starting to wonder if my own body was trying to suffocate itself! The main reason I went to the ENT, instead of just going to the allergy and asthma doctor, was that I was concerned that I had polyps and that’s why I couldn’t smell or breathe. I didn’t think I had the typical nasal allergy symptoms, so I didn’t think that was the problem. Well, I guess it was. My nose was red and inflamed, so my airway was narrowed and we can only suspect that it created just enough blockage to inhibit my sense of smell. I also did have smallish polyps, though nothing to be concerned about. Over time I tried a few different pills with either no relief, or sleepiness that made it impossible to function. I started a nasal spray that seemed to help, so I stayed on that. I also decided to try Singulair, which I had tried YEARS ago to help with my asthma, but it did not help. Since I had not tried it for nasal allergies, I thought I’d try it. This may have been a big mistake! Though I have discussed this with my doctors and been told that it’s highly unlikely, at some point over the years between when I first tried Singulair and this time that I tried it, they had added a new possible side effect…a rare disease called Churg Strauss! (More on this in the future.)
I bring up this story for two reasons. One, because of the Singulair, and two because I really think there has got to be some kind of connection to allergies and being diagnosed with Churg Strauss. Since I have covered this already in my intro to autoimmune diseases (Which I hope you read) I will reiterate that allergic reactions are an immune system response (over reaction) and since autoimmune diseases happen when your immune system goes out of control (over reaction)…it only makes sense to me that they are somehow related, if not one in the same. Maybe it’s constant expose to something that you have been having an allergic reaction to? At some point I will go more in depth about my theory that it might be something in my diet that has contributed to this. Changing my diet is really the first experiment that I am doing with myself, but I really want to cover my story before I start posting details about that, so bear with me for the next couple of posts until I finish the background stuff first.