ASTHMA SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS FINALLY LEAD TO ALPHA-1 DIAGNOSIS
LEONIE’S ALPHA-1 STORY
Alpha-1 Unwrapped is an ongoing series where we unpack the truths about Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and how it impacts the lives of those with the condition. Here we tell the story of Leonie Robison who suffered with severe asthma symptoms from a young age. She was finally diagnosed as a ZZ alpha, but this was after years of being misdiagnosed with other lung conditions.
ASTHMA SYMPTOMS FROM A YOUNG AGE
As a child I was severely affected by asthma, being hospitalised and on oxygen
several times. On one occasion, I was suffering from such a severe attack that
when the family GP arrived, he was worried that if we waited for an ambulance I would not survive, so he drove me to hospital himself.
I eventually “grew out of” my asthma and was symptom free from the age of 18 to 30. At that time, I started developing mild breathlessness, which necessitated starting on cortisone puffers. Over time my wheezing gradually worsened, leading to an ever-increasing dosage of cortisone. ‘
ASTHMA SYMPTOMS PERSIST
Not once in the following 32 years did any doctor ever mention alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and I assumed I had some unusual form of asthma. During this time, I also had a number of other asthma symptoms, generally mild, which were hard to pin down to anything in particular.
Most worrying of these was a persistent cough and irritated throat, which I put down to a combination of allergies and puffers. I started trying to find out why this was happening as I had reached the stage of barely being able to talk, and a lung doctor suggested, to my surprise, that I had reflux. I started medication for this, and it is now reasonably well under control although I still have problems with a husky voice and talking on the phone.
I now know that I am a ZZ alpha and am managing reasonably well.
We will be releasing an ongoing series of Alpha-1 stories in the build up to and throughout Alpha-1 Awareness Month. Stay tuned on our social channels and blog page for more Alpha-1 Unwrapped content.