Posted by: balladofyoko | July 11, 2007


Last week, I went to an allergist to (belatedly) discuss asthmatic reactions I had this past spring. Part of my appointment involved taking a spirometry test in order to determine a baseline for my lung function. Despite not exhibiting signs of asthma or any respiratory infection, my overall baseline was slightly below normal. The doctor interpreted this to mean that I have a predilection for breathing problems. Which makes sense– my childhood illnesses were mostly respiratory infections, and now living in a city with poor air quality doesn’t help matters.

Obviously, my having below-normal lung functions hasn’t stopped me from being active. I had told the doctor that I don’t notice problems with breathing when I’m doing aerobic exercise, such as aikido or bicycling. However, I’ve always had problems getting enough air to play long phrases on clarinet, and my music teachers in the past had attributed that to my small frame. I now wonder if it’s not really my size, but my actual lung capabilities that inhibit me from blowing freely into my instrument.

Will this change the way I practice? Perhaps. The doctor suggested I try to use an inhaler prior to doing any moderate physical activity. We’ll see what happens when I do. I’m not going to spend my time worrying about it, though.


  1. I always had respiratory problems growing up, too, and was diagnosed with asthma as an adult. My dr finally gave me an inhaler to use in the morning, and the evening, and it really made a noticeable difference (at least for me). So if you do start to use an inhaler, I hope it will be a good thing for you too!

    P.S. I’m jealous that you play a musical instrument!

  2. Congrats on learning more about your body – always a good thing. To offer an unsolicited opinion, I’m not sure what’s in the inhaler, but if it’s steroids, I’d just as soon skip them if I’m functioning well for most of my activities. Is it an option just to use it before music practice?

    In any event, rock on not worrying, because at the end of the day you know yourself and your needs :)

  3. Welcome to the world of the respiratorially challenged. ;-)
    When I still lived with my parents, my asthma was so bad that I needed cortisones.
    Then again, when I lived with my parents my epilepsy was far worse as well.
    Stress is an important factor in both these conditions. ;-)
    I’ve noticed that whenever I’m feeling depressed my asthma also gets worse. Maybe that’s also true for you?

    I’m with Local Wizard’s advice on not using the inhaler, unless you need it. But then again your doctor also said just to use it when your doing physical activity. And you’ll soon enough find out when best to use it.

  4. My general philosophy is to take medication when absolutely necessary. The doctor suggested the inhaler as a boost before playing/aerobic exercise, to see if it helps me any. If it does, cool. If it doesn’t, I’m no worse off than I am now. I haven’t tried it yet (although I’ve been practicing and generally running around)– if I do, and it’s tremendously different, I’ll be writing about it.

  5. roz was small, but she had some lungs in her.

    i love my inhaler.


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