DR. HOOK- Breathless: Asthma attacks take your breath away

"Don't hold your breath," is something I hear a lot. Maybe people will do what's right and forget any politics involved? Don't hold your breath. 

Maybe the Olympics in Beijing will reduce human right violations in China? Don't hold your breath.... or maybe you should, with all the pollution there! 

For those with asthma, irritants from dust to pollution can make it difficult to breathe. Asthma is due to airway inflammation of the lungs. Asthma attacks are like being under water and using a thin straw to breathe.

The lungs fill up with air and actually over-inflate because it's hard to exhale all the air from the constricted airways. So the chest starts to feels full– like going from a Chinese gymnast to Pamela Anderson. 

Wheezing occurs mostly on exhaling and sounds like a high-pitched musical whistle. But you can't whistle while you work in this case because of the shortness of breath. And that can result in missing school, missing work, not being able to participate in events. 

Coughing fits are awful because asthma doesn't allow you to catch your breath. Plus, if mucus builds up in the airways, it makes it even more difficult to exchange air.

Don't irritate the airways! But postnasal drip and acid reflux do irritate the airways, triggering asthma attacks. Cold air, viral cold, pneumonia, or bronchitis all can irritate the airways to make breathing as fun as sucking in car fumes.

For most, asthma is an allergy of the lungs, so allergens like pollen, mold, cockroaches, bed mite poop, furry critters, and fumes can set off an attack. Cigarette smoke is horrible for the lungs, and bad for asthma, but I still have a handful of asthmatic patients who smoke. "Doc, I need more inhalers so I can inhale my tobacco. I still have a long way to go to catch up with how many cigarettes Bette Davis smoked. Cough...hack." 

I once interviewed for a job at a chemical plant that would have required me to wear a full-body suit with a gas mask to protect me from the harmful fumes. I guess that's an example of Occupational Asthma– if you didn't wear the oxygen tank. Some folks have breathing problems only at work due to exposure to something there.

Exercise-induced asthma occurs about 10-15 minutes after exercise and usually goes away within an hour. I have exercised-induced asthma, but I've had no attacks in many years. Once, when I was a medical resident in LA, we had a staff retreat at Lake Arrowhead. After a grueling tennis match in the hot, humid, pollen-filled forest, I started coughing like an extra in La Boheme. 

Of course I didn't have albuterol because I hadn't had an attack in years. So I hacked my way over to the swimming pool. "Does .... anyone .... have ....  al ... buterol?" All those docs and no medicine. It was like being with a bunch of chefs out of the kitchen. 

There are good medicines to control asthma to minimize the number of attacks and the severity. Waking up in the middle of the night due to asthma or needing the rescue inhaler too often are bad signs, because many of these asthmatic patients end up in the ER– or dead.

Asthma shouldn't control a person's life. It is like Pink Floyd sings, "Breathe, breathe in the air. Don't be afraid to care." There are so many misconceptions about asthma, so seeing the doctor can really make a difference. I hope I haven't been long-winded about how important this is.

Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice. Email him with your questions.

Correction: The original version of this story contained an unfounded allegation about entertainer Clay Aiken. The allegation has been removed.– ed.



"Jaymes" is a girl .....

How can we believe anything else you say when you can't get this right.

Your journalism seems to be lacking. Jaymes is an executive producer, sister of David Foster. If you can't get the facts straight, don't do an article at all.

this article & all the comments are completely pathetic....& laughable

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I thought the article was never going to end. They're adding asthma-inducing chemicals and particles in the air and water, by the way. But don't call for a violent revolution, or even a peaceful revolution. It will only be co-opted by a NWO infiltrator and used to further destroy you. Now get out there and take on the New World Order!

Thank you for making the correction.

Thanks for your attempt to clear up the allegation about Clay AIken, however, it was NOT an "unfounded" allegation. It was an INCORRECT allegation since Jaymes Foster is a woman.

I hope you check your medical books better than you check facts. Jaymes is all girl.

You fixed the article but Google still has the absurd allegation.

To find out more about Jaymes Foster;s relationship with Clay Aiken, click here:


Well, I guess it was a nice gesture in your attempt to clear up the accusations directed at Clay Aiken; however, this instance can be summed up with a simple quote "WORDS SAID IN ANGER AIMED AT SOMEONE ARE HARD TO TAKE BACK ONCE THE DAMAGE IS DONE". Anger may not be the word of choice for this particular situation, but I think you get the picture. Now where did I hear this qoute before, hm? let's see. Oh, I remember now. Lyrics to a song (As Long As We are Here) on a CD entitled "ON MY WAY HERE". Now what pop artist? Well, damn. CLAY AIKEN. Maybe you should purchase a copy or two, but I will tell you what, I will give you props if you tell me you already have.

The fact Jaymes is a girl and had Clay's baby (by the turkey basting method)doesn't make him straight. Everyone except the kool-aid drunken Claymates know he doesn't like girls in a sexual way. FACT! They need to stop harassing everyone who doesn't share their deluded ideas about him.

Just looking for more hits? You know that Clay's name will bring them. Your deleting the comment about Clay because it was totally wrong was nice but check into getting it off the the Google Alert if you want to show you're serious and not just trying to get more hits because of Clay's name.

Well the comments sure don't line up with the article except in Twilight Zone.Is that where we are! And hey Nizza what do you know. I guess I have no idea who any entertainer sleeps with and it's none of my business. Get a life are you the claymate police. Who cares if they think he is straight. Their point is James is a girl (and David Foster's sister apparently)and it is a good one.And what in the HECK does it have to do with this article. You can strangest things on the net and this is really a case in point.

You all don't play fair ! All the BS that you have published over the years about Clay Aiken has gotten very old and monotonous. His private life should be just that - PRIVATE. Who cares if he is either straight or gay or just too busy with his career to look for a soul mate - whatever, Clay is a very talented man and has many loving fans.

Clay is a Southern gentleman who admits that he is still a Mama's boy and has talent galore, but especially THAT VOICE that keeps his fans begging for more and more - they just can't get enough of Clay.

Now Clay has stepped out and boldly accomplished something that he has wanted for some time - to be a parent and have that special loving feeling of having children. Don't be so quick to judge him - he is a very sincere and loving father. No one said anything negative when Brad and Angelina had 'in vetro' with their twins.

As for myself I wish Clay much happiness and the blessings of God.

Clay is probably very glad that you are out of his hair and enjoying the privacy with his wee one.

As for your using and over using the nickname of “Gaybies” - THAT JUST SHOWS HOW JUVENILE YOU ARE.

I can see clearly that you are most certainly an A$$ hole, and a devil’s advocate and have no original thoughts in your head except lies, half-truths, and pure trash. I GUESS YOU ARE WHAT YOU PRINT.

As for the papers and magazines failing to have photos or print any stories about Clay being a new father and the baby’s picture - you all have double standards. Further you probably wouldn’t have been allowed permission from either Clay or Jaymes for an interview or photo shoot had you asked in the first place.

That’s my opinion anyway.

Regards, Sharie

Here we go again...another "journalist" who doesn't care to check his facts before he spouts off!! Unfortunately, you're also supposed to be an MD!! You've discredited yourself in print because of your rude, inappropriate and incorrect allegations. Jaymes Foster is a woman. If you expect anyone to take you seriously in life, you'd better check your facts and become better informed before you put anything in print. As a physician you should know better!!!

I think, Clay or not, this guys remark was homophobic and shows alot about who this guy is. And I for one am not impressed by him. He showed right up front that he is just another loser who has to degrade someone else for his own jollies. Sad really.


John Wayne's real name is MARION!

You need a new fact checker!!

This is so out of character for me, but in looking back to see if my comment was posted, I came across Nizza's comment from 09/11 at 9:15 p.m. I usually do not respond back. I just got so tickled about the reference to "us kool-aid drunken claymates". I just had to say: