In 1973 I was 3-years old. This was the year that a little white inhaler called Alupent was approved by the FDA. there was other rescue medicine on the market too, including Alupent solution. So, while I may have been too young for an inhaler in 1973, I certainly was old enough for my mom to give me breathing treatments when I was feeling short of breath.
This did not happen. I do not fault my doctors for this. I am sure they remember quite well the fact that the asthma death rate spiked in the late 1950s following the introduction of the Medihaler Epi to the market. They were well aware that, while asthma rescue medicine opened airways, it also had a strong cardiac effect.
After the Medihaler Epi and Medihaler Iso were introduced to the market in 1956, doctors were eager to prescribe these medicines for their asthma patients. And asthmatic patients love the convenient, and quick relief provided by these inhalers. They became an overnight sensation among the asthma community.
Asthmatics stuffed them in their pockets. They stuffed them in their purses. They took them with them wherever they went. And when they felt asthma symptoms, they pulled out their handy inhalers and they puffed. If their breath did not come back, the kept puffing until it did.
So, one theory is they became over-reliant on their inhalers. After puffing too many times, the cardiac affect caused their hearts to stop. They went into cardiac arrest and died.
There was also a second theory that postulated that the inhalers gave asthmatics a false sense of hope. that, rather than seeking help when they needed it, they kept puffing on their inhaler. By the time the decided they needed to seek help, it was too late. I personally prefer this theory.
However, that is neither here nor there. I am simply relaying this bit of information so you know that the medical community was fearful of rescue medicine. Doctors surely wanted to help asthmatics, but they didn't want the medicine they prescribed to harm their patients either. So, they did not prescribe me this kind of medicine. I had asthma attacks, and if I needed help my parents had to recognize it and take me to the doctor or hospital.
The fact I was a child asthmatic probably made Dr. Gunderson even more fearful of prescribing rescue medicine. So, regardless of how bad my asthma became over the course of the next seven years, my parents had no rescue medicine to help me breathe better.