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Asthma and playing bass.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rockin John, May 23, 2004.

  1. Was diagnosed with Asthma just last week. It came as a bit of a shock, especially considering I'm in middle age.

    Anyway, I wondered how players coped. For me, for example, performing in smoke-filled bars might now be out of the question....that the only place I ever played :bawl:

    Thinking on spending a lot of £££ on a new bass....might that be pointless now, I wonder?

    Opens a lot of questions, doesn't it? :(

  2. Kat_Mia

    Kat_Mia Guest

    May 7, 2004
    Dorset, UK
    Hey, I have asthma and although I haven't done too many gigs (I'm only 16), I still find it had to be in bars and stuff if they're really smoky. My boyfriends band once played in a pub and it was horrid, I had to go home half way through because I couldn't cope with the smoke. Personally I hate smoking and can not stand it so don't know why I went in the first place but taught me a lesson.

    Has your doctor given you a preventative inhaler? Not sure whether you're in US or UK (I am in UK) but I have a blue inhaler which helps when for example, I'm doing sport or when my asthma gets bad when carrying my double bass around!! I also have a brown inhaler, I have to take this 4 times a day, it's more of a 'long term' iunahler rather than an 'on the spot' inhaler. Hope you know what I mean. If you have got a brown inhaler, or preventative, make sure you take it because when I first got given mine, I didn't and now I'm having problems later on and I'm not growing out of it yet.

    I hope to play gigs and things when I'm older and no doubt some of the places I play will be smoke filled bars but I s'pose the best thing to do would be to play next to a window if possible. I know that's not often possible, so if it isn't, make sure you take regualar breaks outside.

    If you have a blue inhaler (the one for if you get sudden asthma or attacks etc) and you're playing at a gig, make sure you take itoutside in the fresh air, away from the smoke because, take it in the bar, and you're inhaling (spelling?) more smoke and much deeper.

    Hope this helps, probabaly won't. Keep your chin up!! Kat xx
  3. matt bass

    matt bass

    Apr 28, 2003
    Staffs, England
    Another long term Asthmatic here (again 16). I have had asthma since I was about 4. For me smokey pubs are no problem, this does not seem to affect my asthma in anyway. Although I have been in hospital twice in the last month with attacks, every asthmatic has different things which affect them.

    I am on Ventalin (blue inhaler), Becotide (brown inhaler), and Serevent (green inhaler). My suggestion would be to go and check out any place you know you are going to be playing in. If it's a pub chances are it's going to be filled with smoke. Go in and have a pint before hand and see if you are ok. If you feel any loss of breath or a tightness in the chest i recomend going outside, slow your breathing down and use your inhaler (i'm guessing it's a Ventalin, Blue) untill you feel calm once again.

    Is it possible to place a fan behind you on stage? I have found this to help keep unwanted fumes at bay with relitive success.

    Good luck mate. Anything more you want to know, drop us a line.

    Matt :bassist:
  4. Kat_Mia

    Kat_Mia Guest

    May 7, 2004
    Dorset, UK
    Hey Matt, can I have some of your treatment please-how come I can't withstand smoky bars? :confused: LOL! What's your green inhaler for, LOL, never had one of them!
  5. Bad Brains

    Bad Brains Banned

    Jan 7, 2004
    Detroit, michigan
    I have asthma, i find that as long as i'm not actually smokeing the ciggs i will be fine. I always carry around an inhaler around with me regardless.
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Been asthmatic all my life and have had some nasty close calls after being in smokey bars for gigs or to see other bands play. Also one of the closest and nearly deadly attacks came after shaking hands with a man who wore very strong after shave cologne. My lungs shut down instantly. As was mentioned above, lugging heavy amps and speaker cabs have also brought on attacks. I guess it is the heavy exertion.

    But, I seem to have been liberated from the emergency room and long nights sitting up because I couldn't breathe lying down. A new generation of drugs has given me freedom from asthma attacks I have never known before.

    I take one Singulair pill a day. I inhale one puff twice a day of Advair. Advair has freed me from needing all those other inhalers mentioned by others here. The combination of Advair and Singulair has kept me out of the emergency room five years. I can also exercise now, do weights and jog.

    As for what may bring on your asthma, it differs for every patient, but I gotta say smokey bars are absolutely toxic. You may not have an attack right away, but it may hit you the next day after a smokey gig. And if you smoke, better stop.

    I gave up playing smokey gigs which means I gave up playing paying gigs. That may seem like an impossibly high price to pay, but I've been in such a bad state several times that the doctor had my husband in the next room preparing him for the idea I might not make it. After scares like that, staying out of smokey bars is easy for me.
  7. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Asthmatic since early childhood here too... I'm also an Advair guy.

    Smoky bars have never really bothered me for one simple reason: I'm stupid and I smoke. :eyebrow: Yes I know it's bad and I am trying to quit, but it doesn't seem to affect it much except if I am sick.

    There's no reason why it should prevent you from playing but if you're having problems breathing, be careful. Make sure your bandmates know of your condition so if you're having difficulties they won't complain about you not carrying the gear the next day.

    As mentioned, if you're in an environment that may bother your lungs, bring your inhaler. After a while you will get a better feel for what situations will be ok and which won't.
  8. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    Good luck quitting, thrash jazz.

    I've known that I have asthma for about 13 years. If you've been ok up until now in smoke filled bars, you'll probably get by just fine. Different things bother different people more, be it cigarette smoke, dust, mold, pollen, pollution, exercise...If you have albuterol, you should be ok. Get some fresh air before and after the set. Flovent works great for me as a preventative measure...I biked over 100 miles yesterday and only used my albuterol inhaler once because I took flovent in the morning. If you're in the middle of a song, just try to concentrate on slow and full breaths until you're able to use an inhaler. You can also use abuterol before a set (before you're wheezing). C

    In a pinch, caffeine helps too.

  9. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Asthma can be a tough cookie to crumble because it is so different and similar in all patients. I wouls suggest many things but I cant give you specifics because I dont want to undermind what your own Docs have told you. However, there are some basics you can follow.

    1. Stick to your medication regime. Its very important, especially if you are on a leukotrine inhibitor (the pills that prevent attacks). There require a theraputic level to be really effective.

    2. Keep your "rescue" inhaler close by. This can be especially helpful in the middle of a song, step asode, pop a couple of puffs, back in the mix.

    3. Get and learn how to use a Peak Flow Meter. This can help you fight off an attack before it gets started. (and can tell you when its time to get your butt to the ER)

    4. Make sure you know how to properly use the inhalers. If you dont, it can be the difference between a few hours of wheezing and a trip to the ER.

    Caffeine can help, it is considered classified as a methyl xanthine, a weak bronchial dilator. But it can be slow to react. I used to use theophyllin, a xanthine as well, but the side effects were not worth the minimal positive effects.

    Thats the short of it, if I can be of any help, let me know.

  10. grooveguru


    Sep 14, 2000
    Central PA
    I have Asthma and was diagnosed about 6 years ago when I was 42. I also take Advair and Singular daily and it's under control. This past January I had a mild heart attack and was told by my cardiologist that the middle aged onset of Asthma can be a sign of heart problems so get a checkup to be safe.
  11. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    I was diagnosed with asthma at like... 7? But I've never had an attack, haven't taken/needed my inhalers... in like... 5 years or so. I think it was just a childhood thing. Probably more allergies in my case, and a not too good doctor.

    I've played low woodwinds for about 7 years now, and I can play those super fine, I don't see why bass could even compare to the difficulty of playing a wind instrument for an asthmatic.

    Then again, I was most likely misdiagnosed, so don't really consider what I have to say seriously.