How the Right Asthma Treatment Helped One Patient Breathe Easier
Rashelle Stocker was in third grade when she had her first asthma attack—a moment she remembers clearly even more than 30 years later. Playing tetherball on the playground with friends, she suddenly found herself unable to breathe.
“It was like something heavy was sitting on my chest. I was literally gasping for air, but I couldn’t take a deep breath,” says Rashelle, now a high school theater teacher living in New York City. That incident led to Rashelle being diagnosed with asthma and then spending years working with doctors to find the right treatment to control her symptoms.
Growing Up With Difficulty Breathing
While that harrowing day at the playground was her first asthma attack, Rashelle says looking back there were earlier signs that her respiratory system wasn’t as healthy as it should be.
As a child, she coughed regularly, even when she wasn’t sick, and she didn’t have the stamina of her classmates. Coughing is among the common symptoms of asthma, a respiratory condition that causes difficulty breathing due to spasms in the bronchi of the lungs and a narrowing of the airways.1 Other symptoms include wheezing when breathing, shortness of breath, breathlessness when exercising and chest tightness—all of which she encountered.
Rashelle was also exposed to two risk factors for asthma—living in a city with significant air pollution, as she grew up in Los Angeles, and being exposed to second-hand smoke, which Rashelle frequently experienced as a child. Other risk factors for asthma include but aren't limited to having a primary family member with asthma; smoking; regular exposure to dust, chemicals or fumes; having allergies; or having a viral respiratory infection during childhood.2
But it wasn’t until that first asthma attack that anyone took Rashelle’s coughing seriously. She was rushed to the hospital that day where she learned that her symptoms were likely signs of asthma.
“The doctor had me take deep breaths into a machine (a peak flow meter) that measured how fast air came out of my lungs,” she says. The peak flow meter measures how open the airways are in the lungs.3 Her results indicated there was an irregularity. She was diagnosed with asthma that day and left the hospital with her first inhaler.
The Path to the Right Treatment
Rashelle says her inhaler helped her with asthma attacks, but she still wasn’t able to do many of the activities she wanted to do, like playing on team sports in high school.
“The inhaler helped manage my symptoms and whenever I didn’t have it with me, I felt very, very nervous,” she says.
As she got older, Rashelle realized that her asthma wasn’t only triggered by physical activity but also whenever she felt anxious or upset. In those moments, she’d feel like she couldn’t breathe and would often find herself reaching for her rescue inhaler.
A rescue inhaler, also known as a quick relief inhaler, is helpful when someone with asthma has trouble breathing (including during an asthma attack) because it allows airways to relax and helps breathing return to normal.4 Rescue inhalers aren't meant to be used for the long term but rather are intended to quickly relax the muscles surrounding a patient's airways and should be kept on hand at all times to relieve sudden asthma symptoms.
Since Rashelle suffered from more persistent asthma symptoms, she was also prescribed a long-term controller medication called a daily maintenance inhaler, following her first hospital visit. The most commonly used maintenance inhaler contains two types of medicines: an ICS (inhaled corticosteroid), which fights inflammation, and a LABA (long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist), which opens your airways. Rashelle was initially prescribed this form of treatment, which she took twice-a-day, but this combination was not enough to control her asthma symptoms, and she wanted a treatment that is only once-a-day, which prompted her to discuss other options with her healthcare provider.
Her doctor then recommended for Rashelle to switch to TRELEGY ELLIPTA (fluticasone furoate 100 mcg, umeclidinium 62.5 mcg, and vilanterol 25 mcg inhalation powder), a once-daily medication that contains three medicines in one inhaler. After consistently taking TRELEGY for her asthma treatment, she finally felt in control of her symptoms.
TRELEGY is a prescription medicine used long-term to treat asthma in adults. TRELEGY won’t replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. TRELEGY contains a medicine that increases the risk of hospitalizations and death from asthma problems when used alone. When this medicine is used with an ICS, like in TRELEGY, there is not a significant increased risk of these events. Do not take TRELEGY more than prescribed. TRELEGY may increase risk of thrush, infections, and serious allergic reactions. Get emergency care if you get a rash, hives, mouth and tongue swelling, or breathing problems. See your doctor if your asthma does not improve or gets worse. Please see additional Important Safety Information below.
Taken only once a day, this therapy contains an ICS, a LABA, and a third medicine called a LAMA (long-acting muscarinic antagonist). This additional medicine blocks the tightening of smooth muscle around your airways to help keep them open.
TRELEGY can help improve lung function and prevent symptoms for a full 24 hours, though individual results may vary.
How Proper Medication Changed Rashelle’s Relationship With Asthma
Living in New York, Rashelle finds herself walking frequently in a heavily polluted city. But she says that the once-a-day dosing of TRELEGY fits better into her lifestyle, allowing her to keep up with the city's fast pace. “I do still take my rescue inhaler with me everywhere, but since taking TRELEGY, I finally feel like I can take a deep breath again."
Rashelle says her life is where it is today because she was able to find a doctor who helped her find the right treatment. She recommends that people with asthma and people who have asthma-like symptoms, see a pulmonologist right away to be properly diagnosed and learn about the different treatment options available.
Growing up, asthma held Rashelle back, but as an adult, she doesn't want to keep feeling like that because she has the perspective that life is meant to be lived. “Having asthma that isn’t properly treated can take a toll,” she says. “It can affect the way someone sees themself and maybe even how others see them. It needs to be taken seriously and not overlooked.”
To find out more about asthma and TRELEGY, visit TRELEGY.com/asthma or talk with your healthcare provider.
Important Safety Information for TRELEGY
TRELEGY contains vilanterol. Long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) medicines such as vilanterol, when used alone, increase the risk of hospitalizations and death from asthma problems. TRELEGY contains an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), an anticholinergic, and a LABA. When an ICS and LABA are used together, there is not a significant increased risk in hospitalizations and death from asthma problems.
Do not use TRELEGY to relieve sudden breathing problems. Always have a rescue inhaler with you to treat sudden symptoms.
TRELEGY should not be used in children younger than 18 years of age. It is not known if TRELEGY is safe and effective in children.
Do not use TRELEGY if you have a severe allergy to milk proteins or are allergic to any of the ingredients in TRELEGY. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure.
Do not use TRELEGY more often than prescribed.
Do not take TRELEGY with other medicines that contain a LABA or an anticholinergic for any reason. Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions and about all the medicines you take.
Call your healthcare provider or get medical care right away if your breathing problems get worse if you need your rescue inhaler more often than usual or it does not work as well to relieve your symptoms.
TRELEGY can cause serious side effects, including:
Common side effects of TRELEGY include: runny nose and sore throat; upper respiratory tract infection; bronchitis; respiratory tract infection; inflammation of the sinuses; painful and frequent urination (signs of a urinary tract infection); flu; headache; back pain.
Please see full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, for TRELEGY.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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American Lung Association. What causes asthma? American Lung Association website. Published November 28, 2022. Accessed March 3, 2023. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/learn-about-asthma/what-causes-asthma
Mayo Clinic. Asthma. Mayo Clinic website. Published March 5, 2022. Accessed March 2, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369660
Felman, A. Asthma treatment: Controlling asthma, medicines, and in emergency. Medical News Today website. Published November 2, 2018. Accessed March 2, 2023.