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Charles

Age at interview: 71
Age at diagnosis: 40
Brief Outline: Charles, age 71, was diagnosed with asthma at age 40. He is white British and married with five adult children. He is now retired from his job as an engineer/manager in the car industry. Charles describes his asthma as very mild, and sometimes he forgets that he has the condition because he only experiences symptoms infrequently.

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Charles describes his asthma as very mild. He was diagnosed with asthma when he was in his 40’s after visiting the GP for a routine appointment when he had a flu type virus. His doctor asked some questions about how he had been feeling and he reported that sometimes when he had this type of virus he would feel wheezy or breathless. The doctor did a lung function test, and said he thought Charles had asthma. Initially he was prescribed a Ventolin inhaler which worked well to relieve the discomfort. At his next follow up visit with the GP he was also given a preventer inhaler (Becotide) which it was explained would help to prevent further occurrence. He takes between two and six puffs of the preventer inhaler each day depending on how he is feeling, and uses the Ventolin inhaler as and when he needs it to relieve symptoms, although he says that over recent years that happens very infrequently. At times when he is feeling perfectly well Charles sometimes forgets or stops using his Becotide inhaler, because having asthma is not at the forefront of his mind. Despite this, he always carries the Ventolin inhaler with him because sometimes something may trigger his asthma and so he feels it’s sensible to be prepared.

Triggers include certain plants and flowers, some white wines and certain beers, dust and smoke and he also finds his asthma will be triggered when he has a cold or flu. Charles describes his asthma as being at a very mild level and as more of an annoyance than a serious worry. Most of the time he doesn’t think about it and sometimes he forgets he has asthma. Charles says his asthma has never stopped him from being able to do his usual activities such as walking or playing golf.

Charles feels he is relatively well informed about asthma because one of his sons had quiet severe asthma as a child.
 

Charles saw his GP about a chest infection and recurring wheeziness and was diagnosed with asthma. He was given salbutamol (Ventolin) to inhale, which improved the symptoms. [Text only]

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Charles saw his GP about a chest infection and recurring wheeziness and was diagnosed with asthma. He was given salbutamol (Ventolin) to inhale, which improved the symptoms. [Text only]

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In about 1980 I was suffering from wheezing, wheezing problems and they were probably brought on more by colds and just occurring sort of naturally without anything to prompt them. And I think I went to a doctor for treatment for some chest complaint and he did a volume analysis of my lung as a part of a routine inspection and diagnosed that I’d got asthma, or he felt I’d got asthma. And he suggested that I should initially take some Ventolin as it was then termed and see how it went, and if that worked then to put me on a more permanent treatment.

And I did it, and it did work and it removed the discomfort I had. The, what we were talking about as asthma, it wasn’t to me apparent as asthma at the time, because it didn’t stop me or inhibit me from doing anything. And, I was more a discomfort, especially at night when you’re sleeping or lying down. And rather than being a painful experience at any stage.
 

Charles was given a Ventolin inhaler when he was first diagnosed, and was later prescribed a preventer inhaler to use as well. Nowadays he rarely experiences symptoms.

Charles was given a Ventolin inhaler when he was first diagnosed, and was later prescribed a preventer inhaler to use as well. Nowadays he rarely experiences symptoms.

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I went on Ventolin for a short while and he then asked to see me again, the normal follow up, and prescribed that I should take this treatment as and when was necessary. And prescribed the brown inhaler which I know as Becotide, but it’s probably called something different now, to help prevent occurrence of the problem in the future.

And since that time I’ve been on two puffs or sometimes varying from two to six puffs a day of Becotide, depending on how things are progressing and Ventolin as and when required.

Now when initially I had to take Ventolin for wheezing, it was probably fairly regular in the sense that I probably took a puff, a couple of puffs every night. Probably not outside that. But over a period of time and years that dropped to now I probably only take a puff of Ventolin about once a month or once every other month.

But I’ve always got a Ventolin inhaler with me just in case, because certain things can set it off with me and over the period of time I find that certain wines, especially white wine, especially German white wines, ones with a sort of a flowery aroma to them will set me off, and I experience quite a chest constriction and sort of wheezing, and I have to take Ventolin then to relieve it.

And certain plants can set me off. I know Golden Rod, the sort of, whether it’s the seeds or whatever it is from it, spores from it, can activate it as well. So I have to normally when I go out on garden visits I take a Ventolin inhaler just in case I need one. Very seldom these days. I mean the Becotide seems to work.
 

Charles wasn’t worried when he got his diagnosis because the inhaler relieved the symptoms and his asthma has remained very mild.

Charles wasn’t worried when he got his diagnosis because the inhaler relieved the symptoms and his asthma has remained very mild.

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It didn’t worry me at all, because I needed relief at that time and that gave me relief and therefore I wanted more of it, so it wasn’t a question of having any reservations or fear. It was more a question of thank goodness someone has given me a bit of relief. And you know, it may be had I not had that at that stage, or in the, you know, the near period soon after, then I might have experienced more full blown asthma, as I would probably term it. May be with me, it was caught in time.
 

Certain wines and beers affect Charles but not all, so he can drink alcohol but just avoids the types that set off his asthma.

Certain wines and beers affect Charles but not all, so he can drink alcohol but just avoids the types that set off his asthma.

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You said that the wine sometimes might trigger your asthma a little bit. Would you don’t avoid those kinds of things?

Well I will do actually now, because there’s so many nice alternatives. Therefore I used to drink quite a lot of German wines. We had a neighbour who was German and was also a master brewer, I know this sounds slightly off track, but he was very much into the field of wines, and he said that quite often it’s how they treat the grapes and how they spray the vines which they do with white wines in certain areas. And it’s probably an additive associated with that. And therefore because of that I kept off the German wines and I might go to French or Chilean wines which don’t seem to affect me to the same extent.

I certainly know with beer, that’s another one that certain beers can affect me. You know, I can just take half a pint of beer and I’ll start wheezing and I’m told that again certain places treat their hops in a certain way. And that can, there is obviously an additive there which I’m sensitive to.
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