PERIODS can be tough going, causing pain and discomfort.
But one woman lives in fear of her monthly cycle – as for her it could trigger a deadly asthma attack.
Lisa Hall says that in the days leading up to her period, the symptoms of her condition can worsen.
Common signs of asthma include a cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness or pain.
The 40-year-old said her cough got so bad close to her cycle that her previous employer told her that if she didn’t get help from her GP, they would take her to A&E.
Lisa, who lives in Newport, Wales, said her attacks will sneak up on her over a few days.
“I’m taking about eight medications a day to try and get some sort of control,” she told the BBC.
A recent report from Asthma UK found that women are twice as likely to die of an asthma attack than men.
Female sex hormones including oestrogen may be to blame for triggering worse breathing attacks.
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the charity, said: “Gaps in our knowledge are failing women.
“Many are struggling with debilitating asthma symptoms, stuck in a cycle of being in and out of hospital and, in some cases, losing their lives.”
Lisa said the report helped shed light on her condition and she also discussed her symptoms with her asthma nurse.
“For me it seemed too perfect to be random, if that makes sense.”
She said she was fortunate her nurse had noticed this pairing of her menstrual cycle and onset of asthma symptoms, and while there was no clear evidence at the time, she believed it to be true from her other conversations with asthma patients.
“For a lot of people, talking about your menstrual cycle is still quite taboo, especially when you’re 15 or 16, you’re quite young and impressionable and it’s embarrassing let’s face it,” Lisa added.
If there was more discussion from a medical standpoint, she said, this could be helpful to patients who might not want to address periods with their health care professional.
This she said, might open up further pathways and treatment options for women.
Experts at Asthma UK say the best way to monitor your symptoms is by keeping a log.
The symptoms of asthma you need to know
The main symptoms of asthma are:
- a whistling sound when breathing
- a tight chest
Symptoms can sometimes get worse and this is known as an asthma attack.
These are the signs you should look out for:
- your blue reliver inhaler is not helping
- you’re too breathless to speak, eat or sleep
- breathing is getting faster
- can’t catch your breath
- kids might complain of a tummy or chest ache
It can help you spot if or when your asthma symptoms or flare ups correlate with period symptoms.
There are around three million women in the UK with asthma and 2.4million men.
Attacks cause the airways to tighten up and make it difficult to breathe.
While boys are more likely to have the condition as children, many grow out of it and women are more likely to develop it in puberty or adulthood.
Asthma + Lung UK said female hormones oestrogen and progesterone can make symptoms worse as they push down levels of male testosterone, which strengthens the airways.
Adult women are 2.5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma than men and are more likely to struggle to control the condition, the charity added.
Ms Woolnough added: “By understanding the role of sex hormones in asthma, we could transform the lives of millions of women across the world.
“We urgently need to see more investment in research in this area to save lives.”
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