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October 22, 2014

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Kristin Chenoweth says she suffers from asthma

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Emmy- and Tony-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth.

NEW YORK — Kristin Chenoweth is ready to tell the world she suffers from asthma. The Tony Award-winning actress with the powerful voice says she's suffered with the respiratory disorder for more than a decade.

"I haven't really discussed the fact that I do suffer from asthma," Chenoweth told The Associated Press last week. "I kept getting sick and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get my breath ... that's kind of my asthma journey, if you will."

But Chenoweth was not correctly diagnosed for a few years. The entire time she did the smash Broadway musical, "Wicked," when she originated the role of Glinda, she thought she was suffering from bronchitis and other respiratory issues.

"It was only after going to L.A. to do 'Bewitched,' and 'The West Wing' that I really got sick. But I wasn't diagnosed with asthma," Chenoweth recalls. "It wasn't until I was doing the television series, 'Pushing Daisies,' that my doctor in Oklahoma diagnosed me."

Her doctor told her she needed to carry an inhaler at all times so she could breathe. That diagnosis has changed her life, as well as affecting her confidence.

When she last appeared on Broadway in the 2010 revival of "Promises, Promises," Chenoweth recalls a scary encounter.

"I was onstage, literally in the second act in a pretty dramatic scene, I can literally feel it coming on, and I remember thinking, 'How am I going to deal with it? How am I going to get my breath? How am I going to get offstage? How am I going to get to my inhaler?' Luckily I found a spot where it would make sense for me to exit and my dresser was there with an inhaler."

Recently, Chenoweth did a public service announcement called "Know Your Count," urging sufferers who use an inhaler to make sure it includes a dose counter.

"I've used an inhaler, and didn't understand why it wasn't working," Chenoweth recalls. "I wasn't getting any relief because it was empty. That's why the dose counters are so great. When it comes to having usages left, it's time to get another inhaler."

The "Know Your Count" campaign is being funded by Teva Respiratory, which makes inhalers with counters. Chenoweth is a paid spokeswoman for Teva Respiratory.

Despite having asthma, Chenoweth has kept busy. Later this month she'll appear in the 100th episode of "Glee," while next month her latest film, the animated, "Rio 2" premieres. Then in May, the singer takes to the stage at Carnegie Hall, her inhaler certainly nearby.

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