As a busy professional always on the road and on the go, Kristin knows how challenging living with asthma can be. In this interview, she shares her asthma journey with a message of hope and possibility for asthmatics — that by keeping your asthma controlled, you can lead an active lifestyle and live a life you love.

Mediaplanet How often do you experience symptoms and what do they feel like?

Kristin Chenoweth As you know, asthma can be unpredictable. Some days I feel great and don’t experience any symptoms. Other days I find myself unable to catch my breath and experience tightness in my chest. You can imagine the impact not being able to catch your breath has on a singer!

MP What are your primary asthma triggers?

"It’s possible for people with asthma to live healthy and active lives as long as the condition is being safely and properly managed. Just look at me — I’m a prime example of how you can live beyond the condition and continue doing what you love!"

KC Stress is a huge trigger for me. With my busy schedule, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the projects I have going on at once, which in turn may cause my asthma symptoms to flare. I have to be really smart about recognizing the onset of my symptoms and using my medication when I need it. I learned the hard way that avoiding or ignoring your asthma symptoms is just not the way to go. I can’t emphasize how important it is to take care of yourself and to listen to your body when it’s telling you something is wrong, and I have a tendency when I get sick for it to go straight to my chest. Plus, flying and constant weather changes don’t help.

MP How does asthma impact your preparation for a theater performance, such as the breath and endurance needed for singing on Broadway? Have you ever had to modify how you sing to accommodate asthma?

KC Before each performance, I try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible, to reduce the possibility of my asthma symptoms flaring. I also am always diligent about making sure my medication is nearby at all times in case I need to use it. I’ve been fortunate enough to make it through many performances without my symptoms bothering me, but still ensure I’m prepared in the event an asthma attack strikes when I least expect it! 

MP Have you ever experienced asthma symptoms during a show? What caused the flare-up and how did you address symptoms at the time?

KC I vividly remember one instance during my career where I found myself unable to catch my breath on stage. In 2012, I was appearing in the Broadway musical, Promises, Promises, when I felt an attack coming on. Unsure of what caused my symptoms to flare, I started to panic and felt tightness in my chest. I did my best to remain calm until I found an opportunity during my performance to sneak off stage to my dressing room where I used my rescue inhaler. 

MP When you started your treatment plan including use of an inhaler, how soon did you notice improvement? How did your quality of life improve?

KC When I was first diagnosed with asthma, my doctor prescribed a rescue inhaler and said to keep it with me at all times. I remember the first time I felt my asthma symptoms coming on and I used my inhaler — I was shocked at how quickly my symptoms improved. While my asthma is considered moderate, I think having the
inhaler puts my mind at ease. 

MP Tell us about your involvement with the “Know Your Count” campaign and why it’s so important for patients to keep track of inhaler dosage.

KC For more than a decade, I suffered from asthma in silence. When I was approached to partner on a national asthma awareness campaign in the United States, I thought the timing to share my story with the public felt right. As part of the Know Your Count campaign, we filmed a public service announcement and developed an educational website in an effort to raise awareness of the seriousness of asthma and educate people living with the disease and their caregivers about the importance of keeping track of the remaining doses in their rescue inhalers. With asthma attacks accounting for nearly two million emergency room visits in the United States alone each year, it’s clear that further education is needed to ensure we can reduce this number in the years to come. 

MP What advice or message would you give someone who has asthma or is newly diagnosed?

KC Asthma has the potential to be a life-threatening condition, so I would encourage anyone living with the condition to work closely with their physician to find a treatment plan that works best for them. It’s possible for people with asthma to live healthy and active lives as long as the condition is being safely and properly managed. Just look at me — I’m a prime example of how you can live beyond the condition and continue doing what you love!