Asthma is a serious, chronic lung disease that can be debilitating and even fatal. It causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and swollen, often in response to inhaled substances. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the chest and wheezing. Asthma attacks or flare-ups cause severe symptoms that can be fatal without treatment.
Asthma can’t be cured; it can only be managed. Today, asthma medications are available that can keep symptoms under control and help people with asthma live normal lives. If you have asthma, follow these 10 steps to control your symptoms, manage your condition and live your life to the fullest.
1) Control Humidity in Your Home
Mold and mildew are common asthma triggers, and they’re most likely to grow in humid, damp areas. Control humidity in your home to regulate mold and mildew growth, and related asthma symptoms. Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home between 25 and 50 percent. If you can, use air conditioners.
Clean your bathrooms regularly with anti-mold-and-mildew cleaners and vent steam from your bathroom with exhaust fans. Add mold inhibitor to indoor paint to keep mold out of your home.
2) Restrict Your Pets
Pet hair and dander can be an irritant that could inflame your asthma symptoms, especially if you have pet allergies. Mitigate your exposure to pet hair and dander — keep pets off your furniture and out of your bedroom. Remove carpeting from your home if possible, as it can trap pet dander and fur. Bathe your pets once a week.
3) Avoid Pollen
If you have asthma, pay attention to pollen counts — pollen could aggravate your asthma symptoms, especially if you have allergies. Pollen counts are most likely to be high on dry, warm days and in the morning. Stay indoors during high pollen count periods and keep your windows closed during pollen season. Again, use air conditioning if you can.
4) Control Insects
Insects in the home can also trigger asthma symptoms. Take steps to keep insects like cockroaches and ants out of your home. Avoid using pesticide sprays; these can also aggravate your symptoms — unless another member of the household can spray them when you’re not at home. Insect bait and roach traps are effective alternatives.
5) Protect Yourself from Dust Mites
Dust mites are microscopic insects that live in mattresses, carpets, furniture upholstery, bed linens and pillows, among other places. While you may not be able to eliminate your home of dust mites, you can take steps to reduce their numbers. Cover pillows, mattresses and box springs in allergen-proof covers. Wash your bed linens and stuffed animals in hot water every week. Change air filters on heaters and air conditioners regularly. Remove carpeting if possible, or vacuum often whilst wearing a dust mask if not. Keep clothing stored in closets and drawers, and dust your home often.
6) Reduce Stress
Stress can make your asthma symptoms worse, and worsening asthma symptoms can make you feel more stressed, creating a dangerous cycle. Make stress management a priority in your life. Regularly schedule time for yourself.
Cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays and cleaning sprays, perfumes and air fresheners — all of these airborne irritants can trigger asthma symptoms or, sometimes, a full-blown asthma attack. Avoid areas where people are smoking cigarettes. Don’t use harsh cleaning products or chemical sprays in your home. You may even want to avoid using perfumes or colognes.
9) Tell Others You Have Asthma
Since asthma symptoms can come on suddenly and can require immediate emergency care, it’s important to let those around you know you suffer from asthma. Your family, friends, co-workers, teachers, acquaintances and coaches are your first line of defense if sudden severe asthma symptoms prove overwhelming. Make sure the people around you know how to identify the symptoms of an asthma attack and what they should do if you have one.
10) Be Prepared in Case of an Attack
Are you ready if an asthma attack occurs? Keep inhalers and other asthma medications available in case you need them. Know where you’ll go if you have an asthma attack – find out where the nearest hospitals to your workplace, home and school are, so you’ll know where you’re going if you need emergency care. If you travel, find out the location of the closest emergency facility in advance. You may never need it, but it pays to be safe.
Asthma is a serious disease, but it doesn’t need to damage your quality of life. When you use the right medications and take the right precautions, you can control your asthma — instead of letting it control you.