PHILADELPHIA. (KFSN) --You can't catch your breath, and then your doctor treats you for asthma, but it keeps getting worse. It's a mysterious disease that affects only women, but there's something simple you can do to change your life.
Last year, Laura DiFrancesco lost what she loves to do: playing outside with her family.
DiFrancesco told Ivanhoe, "I couldn't talk in full sentences; I couldn't run around, I couldn't play with my children, I couldn't even walk up the stairs holding one of my children."
Doctors first told her she had asthma. No relief. Then allergies, again, no help.
DiFrancesco explained, "Having two boys, you have to be able to run around and you can't have lack of energy and you can't have trouble breathing when you have two little boys!"
Ahmed M.S. Soliman, MD, Director of the Voice, Airway & Swallowing Center at the Temple Head & Neck Institute in Philadelphia told Ivanhoe, "There's a lot of frustration because they've been to doctor after doctor after doctor sometimes and they feel like they will have to live like this for the rest of their lives."
Luckily, Laura found Dr. Soliman; he diagnosed idiopathic subglottic stenosis or ISS ... a condition that causes a woman's throat to tighten.
Dr. Soliman did a bronchoscopy, then surgery to open up Laura's windpipe - giving her immediate relief.
Dr. Soliman explained, "And when we're done, their airways are remarkably more open then when we started out so they immediately feel so much better and that really is very gratifying. They wake up right away from the anesthesia and say 'wow I can breathe!'"
DiFrancesco told Ivanhoe, "It was remarkable, absolutely amazing! I could walk around, I could run, I could play. It's been a year now and I feel great!"
She hopes other women having trouble breathing will simply ask if it's ISS ... because doing that changed her life and might change theirs.
Even with surgery, doctors say ISS can recur 50 to 60 percent of the time. But most patients say they are much better the second time around than before they had surgery for the first occurrence.