Asthma medication side effects help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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I was given Ventolin (generic name "salbutamol" or "albuterol") on the 4th January 2004 as first aid for a severe bronchitis attack on a trip to winter Canada, and had wonderful side-effects helping my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The better drug, I found, is Symbicort.

After one puff of Ventolin, I immediately heard a loud dizzying, ringing noise, and then my mind cleared.

This is wholly remarkable to someone who has suffered clouding of the brain by severe CFS or Fibromyalgia. To someone like me, who has suffered frequent attacks of mild aphasia and complete confusion for more than a year, this is like going from reading by the light of a randomly flickering LED clock, to switching on the room lights.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome researcher Dr Jay Goldstein in his book Betrayal By The Brain talks about there being brain systems going wrong that are helped by vaso-constricting drugs, and other brain system problems that are helped by vaso-dilators. A bronchio-dilator like ventolin dilates the bronchial tubes by vasodilator action.

I was prescribed the preventative Symbicort, which is a powder inhaler containing anti-inflammatory budesonide and brochiodilator formoterol. The brain effects were more gentle than the Ventolin, but more substantial and longer lasting. I have massively improved concentration, and my aphasic symptoms are so well controlled that I am able to sit and write for hours or sit and talk for hours. I feel more energetic, and I have a sense of well-being that I suspect comes from the reduction in inflammation.

After two weeks of Symbicort and antibiotics, my bronchitis mostly cleared up. I still had a dry cough, so I visited a doctor, and explained about how much I like the side effects of the Symbicort. He doubled my dose, and wrote a report for my doctor at home.

On the double dose, I had energy and stamina. For the first time in eighteen months, I had been able to go out on walks for pleasure, without debilitating exhaustion. My technical skills came back to me, and I was able to work on a project with my father-in-law to set up his computer to transfer his old video cassette collection to DVD to save space. I worked without tiring for several days before I finally had the familiar CFS "crash" exhaustion and had to simply rest for a few days.

We returned to Sydney via London, and my wife and I walked for six hours a day all over London to see the sights for two days. My legs hurt from simple muscle-tiredness after a good work-out, rather than from inflammation.

Since returning to Sydney, I developed the common side effect of oral thrush from the Symbicort, and my doctor switched me to Ventolin. The Ventolin gave me my voice back and let my body get rid of the thrush. I did have some stamina on the Ventolin alone, and I could still talk, but it simply wasn't as good as the Symbicort.

I started to feel miserable, like you do with flu or CFS, and I wasn't feeling as bright as on the Symbicort. When I started getting the Mild Aphasia symptoms like biting my mouth when I ate, I decided I had to return to the Symbicort. I compromised by halving my dose to one puff twice a day to reduce the risk of hurting my throat, and used an inhaler spacer.

I felt better within twenty minutes. I stopped having to lie down to recover from my one big day out gathering interviews for the Diffusion radio show . I started writing my travel insurance claim, chasing up the money that Centrelink owe me, cleaning the flat, and registering with the
NSW Writer's Centre .

I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in 1992, and have suffered various insults that have worsened things since then. I have suffered severe symptoms since November 2002, suffering Mild Aphasia and losing seventeen kilograms.

I think the oral thrush that hurts my throat is only caused by the dry powder inhaler, and my google searching has shown that there exist aerosol inhalers that have the same active ingredients budesonide and formoterol, including sinus sprays.

I intend to contact AstraZeneca who make Symbicort and see if they have any information about the drug as a treatment for CFS.

My gastroenterologist early last year told me that my severe CFS symptoms and my mild Aphasia seemed to him to be caused by a micro-organism that exposed my brain to a foreign protein causing inflammation. It makes sense then, that an anti-inflammatory drug should help me.

I'm not cured; I'm still disabled by CFS, but I'm feeling much, much better. I hope that I'm not an isolated case and that these drugs can be used to help relieve some of the symptoms of CFS and Fibromyalgia sufferers around the world.

CFS/ME Society of NSW
A Companion Volume to Dr. Jay A. Goldstein's Betrayal by the Brain: A Guide for Patients and Their Physicians

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