Asthma and Health

He had attacks of asthma from his youth. A few puffs from the inhaler and it used to subside. When the dose from the inhaler did not help he would go to the doctor and get an injection. That always brought down the asthma and he would be healthy enough to go to the office the following day. He is nearing 75 now and the same inhaler or the injection work without fail.
Recently, he had a severe attack and, as he later told me, he could breathe-in only up to the bottom of the throat! He was unable to  talk and conveyed only through hand movements that he should be given oxygen externally. He was admitted to the ICU. A day and half and about 30 injections later he could breathe normally. The BP had shot up. It took a couple more days to stabilize.
Before the attack he had severe abdominal pain and that had yet to subside. It was diagnosed as due to Pancreatis. The pancreas were generating enzymes at a level far exceeding the normal. The excess enzymes were attacking the pancreas. This inflamed the pancreas which put pressure on the intestine (the pancreas are just above the intestine). The gastroenterologist brought the enzyme levels to the upper limit of the normal range in a few more days by intravenous medication. The pain had subsided but not disappeared. It would take a month and treatment from another doctor, a general physician, to disappear completely.
The doctors say that the cause for pancreatis could be genetic. He does not recall any of his relatives having pancreatis. Then they say it could be alcoholism. He never had alcohol! Well, then it could be smoking. Did he smoke? Yes he did. There you go. It could be smoking! He was a heavy smoker; 3-4 cigarette packets a day. But he stopped in his 40’s, i.e. nearly 35 years ago.

He stopped smoking 35 years ago, but there is no sign of its effect on his health or on the occurrence or severity of asthma.  Did stopping smoking really help?! I wonder. I am also reminded of a friend’s grandfather.  He was a farmer. He smoked unfiltered tobacco (wound up in a leaf) all his life.  He died aged 92 perfectly healthy.

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