Any kind of strong emotional response or stress that interrupts normal breathing can bring on asthma symptoms. Laughing or crying too hard, fear, anger, and yelling, all can excite nerves that cause the muscles in your lungs’ airways to tighten. Anxiety during an asthma attack can make you breathe too hard and fast, worsening your symptoms.The American Lung Association and Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center offer five steps to control this chronic lung condition. When you’re successful, you’ll sleep without interruptions, avoid sick days, enjoy an active life, achieve better lung functioning, be satisfied with the asthma care your doctor provides, and rarely or never need emergency treatment or hospitalization.
1. Know Your Signs and Symptoms
Asthma attacks don’t happen suddenly. Triggers can inflame and irritate your sensitive airways, causing the telltale symptoms. Warning signs can alert you to prepare for and stop attacks. Watch out for tightness in your chest, wheezing (a high-pitched raspy sound or whistle while breathing), shortness of breath, congested lungs, coughing when you don’t have a cold, and less airflow into your lungs according to a peak flow meter.
2. Recognize and Reduce Emotional Triggers
Learn to identify internal feelings that aggravate your asthma so you can minimize them. When you feel emotional, anxious, or stressful, concentrate on breathing slowly. Avoid tense situations whenever possible or change the way you think about something, to defuse the stress.
For instance, instead of letting traffic upset you, embrace the opportunity to listen to relaxing music or audio books. Use relaxation techniques like deep-breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation to calm your mind and body.
3. Take Your Medicines as Prescribed
Multiple asthma medicines can keep the airways in your lungs open to prevent or stop asthma attacks. Advair combines two long-term medications so you can control and prevent asthma’s two main components, inflammation and Broncho-constriction, with just one easy-to-use device. Continue taking it even if you feel symptom free. Also have a rescue inhaler like ProAir HFA on hand to relax and open your lungs’ airways quickly.
4. Learn How to Handle an Asthma Attack
When you feel an attack coming, don’t panic. Immediately use your quick-relief medicine to help you breathe easier. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Put your lips together like you’re going to whistle and exhale even more slowly through your mouth. If you feel dizzy, rest briefly.
To control coughing, sit with your head slightly forward and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose. Cough twice to loosen and bring up the mucus in your airways. Then spit it out. If necessary, call your doctor or seek emergency medical assistance.
5. Build a Support Team
Managing asthma is easier with the support of your health care providers, family, and confidants. Your doctor and nurse can help you develop an asthma management plan. Share it with your family, co-workers, and friends so they can help you stick to your daily asthma control routine. Then get rid of triggers, identify signs that an asthma attack is starting, and handle it if you can’t prevent it.