A Life-long Asthma Patient Shares How She’s Learned to Manage Her Condition
Rashelle Stocker was diagnosed with asthma in third grade after having her first attack on the playground. After decades of struggling to manage her asthma, Rashelle found a medication that helped her take back control of this chronic condition.
An estimated 21 million adults in the U.S. have asthma, a respiratory condition that causes inflammation and swelling in the airways, which makes breathing difficult.1
Maybe you or a loved one have been newly diagnosed and you’re just beginning to learn about what it means to live with asthma. Perhaps you’re one of the millions of people who have been diagnosed and you’re getting by, but still find your life limited in some ways. Maybe you have a loved one who is suffering from breathing issues and you want to educate yourself on one of the most common chronic health conditions. Reading Rashelle’s story, and heeding her advice, may help you better understand asthma and the impact it has on people’s lives.
1. A rescue inhaler may not be all you need
After Rashelle was diagnosed with asthma as a child, she was prescribed a rescue inhaler, which she kept with her at all times.
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.2 Rescue inhalers aren't meant to be used for the long term, instead, they 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. However, since Rashelle suffered from more persistent asthma symptoms, she was also put on a long-term controller medication, also called a daily maintenance inhaler.
“The hardest part of my asthma journey has been finding the right medication,” she says. “I’ve always had my rescue inhaler but realizing that I needed a daily treatment, in addition, was huge. My doctor told me that people with asthma need a drug to manage the inflammation in their lungs.”
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.2 Rashelle was initially prescribed this form of treatment, but this combination was not enough to control her asthma symptoms, which prompted her to discuss other treatment options with her healthcare provider.
Rashelle now uses 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 a single inhaler.
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 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.
2. Prioritizing mental health is a key step in managing chronic illness
In addition to figuring out the right medication to manage and control her asthma symptoms, Rashelle began realizing a variety of aspects that are important for her to consider while living with asthma, including her emotional and mental well-being.
Anxiety can trigger asthma attacks—both resulting in similar physiological responses in the body.3 Additionally, people with asthma are three times more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.4 Rashelle says she’s learned first-hand how important prioritizing mental health is—especially for a person with a chronic health condition. In her own life, working with a therapist and practicing self-care are a core part of managing her asthma. “It’s important to check in with yourself and prioritize self-care,” she says.
3. Support is key
Having a chronic condition can feel isolating and can be complicated and overwhelming to explain. However, connecting with other people who can relate to what you’re going through makes a positive impact on your health and serves as a reminder that you're not alone.
Rashelle is part of a text group with friends who also have asthma. They encourage each other daily and hold one another accountable. “Having a support group is very helpful if you have asthma,” she says. “I’ll check in with my friends and ask them, ‘Hey girl, how are you doing? How’s your asthma? Are you still working out and taking your meds? Have you had time for self-care this week?’”
It is also important to talk to the people you spend time with—your friends, family and colleagues—about how their actions can impact your asthma. Let them know how you manage your symptoms and how you feel. When talking to others about your asthma, be clear about what it is, share anything they may be doing that may be making your symptoms worse (like smoking or vaping around you), and make sure they know what to do to help you in case of an emergency.5
4. Medication is just one step in the process
Rashelle says that she’s learned firsthand that healthy habits, like regular exercise and eating a balanced diet, make her feel better overall, which makes managing her asthma easier.
Having a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, may lower airway inflammation, which could reduce asthma symptoms. Conversely, a diet high in saturated fat can increase airway inflammation, which might worsen symptoms.6
If having asthma is preventing you from living a life that you enjoy, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider and get the treatment you need to live a more active lifestyle.
5. Don’t live life on the sidelines because of an asthma diagnosis
Rashelle says the combination of proper asthma medication, managing her anxiety, and prioritizing health and wellness has allowed her to fully engage in life. “Living with asthma is no longer a battle for me; we just co-mingle together,” she says. “I have it under control and when it flares up, I know how to manage it. Working with great doctors, having medication, taking care of my mental health, and living a healthy lifestyle are all part of that.”
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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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, December 13). Most recent national asthma data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/most_recent_national_asthma_data.htm
Felman, A. (2018, November 2). Asthma treatment: Controlling asthma, medicines, and in emergency. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323524
Emotions, stress, and Depression. Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. (2022, November 1). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://aafa.org/asthma/asthma-triggers-causes/emotions-stress-depression/
Caulfield, J. I. (2021). Anxiety, depression, and asthma: New Perspectives and approaches for psychoneuroimmunology research. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health, 18, 100360. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100360
WebMD. (n.d.). Asthma, anxiety, and stress: How to cope. WebMD. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/asthma/asthma-help-living-with-asthma
Guilleminault, L., Williams, E., Scott, H., Berthon, B., Jensen, M., & Wood, L. (2017). Diet and asthma: Is it time to adapt our message? Nutrients, 9(11), 1227. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111227