Aino Palva, 31, who works as a lab technician in Helsinki, remembers how sports started to feel unpleasant in her teenage years when she started having more and more difficulty breathing. The symptoms were similar to those of her allergy, which started to bother her around the same time.
“When I was younger I was into sports and competed at the national level. I sometimes had difficulty breathing during warm-ups and training sessions, but I just thought I was in bad condition. I had just been diagnosed with an allergy and at this point I did not suspect that anything else was wrong.”
Diagnosis on my second visit
Aino was tested for asthma when she started experiencing her first symptoms, but she did not receive a diagnosis then. She was first diagnosed with asthma in 2008, when she was referred for immunotherapy after her allergy symptoms worsened.
“I was tested for asthma once again and this time the doctor diagnosed asthma. My first feeling was of relief when I was finally given a reason why I felt so bad,” says Aino.
Very cold weather during the winter and strong perfumes in public places may worsen Aino’s symptoms. She is currently experimenting with reduced medication taken periodically according to her doctor’s instructions. This means that Aino takes her medication for three months, takes a break from medication for three months and then takes her medication again for three months.
“This type of treatment suits me as it feels like the medication takes less of a toll on my body as I get to take regular breaks. If I start to suffer from symptoms during a break then I take my medication and that usually helps.”
No more sickness absences
The right form of treatment means that sickness absences resulting from Aino’s asthma have become a thing of the past. Her workplace knows about her asthma. Aino’s colleagues also know where she keeps her medication in the event of an asthma attack.
Aino says that she does not feel like she is ill, as she is used to living with her asthma.
“Asthma does not affect my life. Probably the biggest problem is when doctors ask me whether I am generally in good health and I have to say no,” she laughs.
What tips does Aino have for other people who suffer from asthma?
“Life goes on as normal with this illness. You should not avoid doing things just because you have asthma.”
Tips for coping with asthma
- Tell your workplace and school that you suffer from asthma and make sure someone knows where you keep your medication.
- Remember to take your medication and doctor’s certificate when you travel.
- Don’t stop taking your medication, even if your symptoms start to improve. Don’t make any changes in your medication without first talking to your doctor.