Image Credit: Getty Images/ miodrag ignjatovic
Man hugging and stroking cat - a common allergy and asthma trigger

Asthma, Allergies… and Me

Reading time | 3 mins
New or untreated allergies can develop into allergy-induced asthma. Jamie Saunders explores his adult asthma diagnosis.


My name is Jamie, I’m 36 years old and - you guessed it - I have asthma.

When I was a kid I was rarely ill, just the usual kid stuff –  colds and upset tummies - but never anything serious. My younger brother, however, was always a bit poorly. He had asthma and I can remember him wheezing and coughing, and Mum telling us to take it easy if we were running around the garden like nutters.

Mum was always just that little bit more watchful of what he was up to and she was well on top of all his regular medications. Luckily he grew out of it by his early teens and I don’t remember it really affecting anything we did.

Fast forward 20 years and now I’m the one with the inhaler in my pocket.

How did that happen?

I was the eldest, always bigger, stronger and more athletic, and on all the sports teams at school. As an adult, I was working in a physical job as a builder and I seriously into CrossFit, working out four to five times a week.

Then in my early twenties, I started to get hay fever every summer. Not badly at first, but progressively worse every year. One day, my other half came home and announced that we were now the proud owners of a pet cat… Soon afterwards, we discovered I was now allergic to cats too.

And then bang, a few months later, I had my first asthma attack.

It was a normal day –I got up for work feeling a bit chesty and with a mild cough. By now this was pretty normal; although the cat allergy had gotten better, I was a smoker then, so feeling a bit chesty in the morning was nothing new. When I jumped in the shower, however, the coughing got worse. By the time I was out all I could do was sit on the bed and concentrate on breathing.

Once I was well enough to talk, I managed to get an emergency appointment with my doctor. Luckily, I could walk to the surgery so off I went, stopping to get my breath every twenty yards. I saw the doctor quickly, had a couple of tests done and was diagnosed with asthma. One cheeky day off work and a prescription for the pumps later and I was good to go.

Three years on…

That was around three years ago and – fingers crossed -  I’ve only had a couple more attacks since. I find that as long as I’m managing my asthma well it really doesn’t have to affect my day-to-day life that much. I still work as a builder, and I am still a keen CrossFitter. Sure, I get out of breath at work and in the gym quicker than I used to, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on how my body is doing. On the whole, I’m lucky that my asthma isn’t severe and that with good management it doesn’t really stop me doing anything I want to do.

And yes, we still have the cat!

Lastly, having asthma hasn’t been without its laughs.

I’ve been friends with my best mate since school and we see him, his wife and his two little girls pretty regularly. One visit, the girls were very excited to introduce us to their new Guinea pigs. Within 60 seconds of having this ball of fluff on my lap, my eyes were streaming, I was wheezing and it was all pretty uncomfortable. The girls were staring at me with big eyes, wondering what’s going on… and the Guinea pig was just innocently munching away on its greenery.  

I’m 6.2ft and clock in at 220lbs, but these days the running joke is if I don’t play the games they want to play, they will set the Guinea pigs on me!