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Gail

Age at interview: 55
Age at diagnosis: 40
Brief Outline: Gail, age 55, was diagnosed with asthma at age 40. Gail is white British, and is married with two adult children. She works in a medical centre. Gail experienced her first asthma episode during a particularly stressful time at work and eventually went to the doctor to see why she couldn’t shake off a persistent cough that she had developed. The doctor diagnosed asthma and she was prescribed a reliever inhaler. Gail recently gave up smoking and has found that overall she feels healthier and her chest and lungs feel much clearer.

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Gail was diagnosed with asthma when she 40. She experienced her first asthma episode during a particularly stressful time at work and eventually went to the doctor to see why she couldn’t shake off a persistent cough that she had developed. The doctor diagnosed asthma and she was prescribed a reliever inhaler. Her asthma is triggered by stress, cold air, and some allergens such as gloss paint, nail varnish and perfume. Although Gail was later prescribed a preventer inhaler to use, she found that her asthma was fairly mild and infrequent so she rarely used the preventer inhaler.

Gail has managed her asthma on the whole by using her reliever inhaler when she has felt her breathing is becoming more difficult, and by avoiding situations where she might come into contact with things that trigger her asthma.Gail has been a smoker for around 40 years and has recently succeeded in giving up. She says that this has had a marked effect on her asthma, and although she would have been quite insistent that smoking did not affect her asthma before she quit smoking, she is now very sure that smoking must have aggravated her airways because since giving up she rarely experiences asthmatic symptoms.
 

Gail gave up smoking several months ago after being a smoker for many years and says since then she’s hardly had to use her inhaler at all. [AUDIO ONLY]

Gail gave up smoking several months ago after being a smoker for many years and says since then she’s hardly had to use her inhaler at all. [AUDIO ONLY]

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What made you think about giving up smoking? Was your doctor advising you?

Well we’ve been, we’ve been trying on and off for years to give up smoking and I had a stroke five years ago and I should have given up then. But again stress makes you think that you actually need the nicotine to keep going and, and I was getting more and more upset the longer I would try to not smoke. So about, well as I say seven and a half months ago my husband had had another bad chest infection and he said, “I think it’s time to give it up.” And I said, “Well come on let’s do it.” And we did.

We sort of had nicotine patches for three days and stopped the nicotine patches and I haven’t smoked since.

That’s quite an achievement.

It was.

Were you quite …

We were really, really pleased as punch that we, you know, we’d done it. We still go through periods at certain times of the day, when we think oh yes, we can have a cigarette now. And, you know, the normal times that you would have a cigarette. And you get a sort of stressful period, you think I could really do with a cigarette now. And then it goes. As quick as it comes, it goes again. And as I say seven and a half months now, and yes, we’re still not smoking, so we’re really, really pleased.

That is a good thing. So looking back would you say that the smoking exacerbated your asthma?

Yes, I wouldn’t have then. If you’d asked me then, I would have said no smoking has nothing to do with it.

Would you?

I would have said that then, yes.

Why do you think that was then? Was that denial?

Denial. That would have been, yes, it would have been denial definitely. But because of the way my chest is now, then I know definitely that the smoking aggravated it. Definitely.
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