Asthma is a common chronic disease, luckily there are three important things you can do to decrease symptoms and have a better quality of life.
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Knowing your asthma and what makes it worse is an important step in keeping it under control. So it’s important to know what your triggers are.
An asthma trigger is anything that causes inflammation in the lungs which then creates asthma symptoms. Some triggers like dust mites, animals and pollen are related to allergies. Other triggers create inflammation in other ways (i.e. non-allergy ways). These triggers include things like tobacco smoke, cold air and exercise. Infections, especially viruses, are a common trigger.
Knowing your triggers makes it easier to avoid them (and the asthma they create). It can also help work out a management plan with your doctor for times when you are exposed to triggers that are hard to avoid, like viruses or cold air. A proper management plan can also help control exercise related asthma. This can help make asthma less of a problem.
Have an Asthma Action Plan
An Asthma Action Plan is a management plan to help you know what to do when asthma starts getting out of control. It is a written plan that is created with your doctor. It will include information about the daily treatments you need to take when your asthma is well controlled. An asthma action plan will also show how to respond to worsening asthma symptoms or an asthma attack.
Avoid Smoking and Passive Smoke
Tobacco smoke contains chemicals (like ammonia and formaldehyde) which are known to irritate the lungs, cause asthma attacks and make symptoms harder to control. Asthma is a disease that is due to inflammation. So being around something that is known to irritate the lungs just makes that inflammation worse. If you are an asthmatic and smoke it is important for you speak to your doctor about how to give up smoking. If your child is an asthmatic it is important that you protect them from passive smoke (also called secondhand smoke). Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful impact of passive smoke. This is because children’s airways are smaller than adults so the harmful effects of passive smoke affect them faster.
Photo: Boston – ‘Charles River Waterfront – Evening Jog’ by Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)