Asthma Adjusting

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with asthma, you may feel that you have to limit many of your daily activities because of an impending asthma attack. However, the truth is that, by only making small lifestyle adjustments, you will be able to continue doing what you love. Before knowing what you need to change about your life, you need to first answer the question–what is asthma?

What is Asthma

Asthma is a condition of the bronchial airways which has no cause or cure. In people with asthma, the airways become inflamed and narrow, making it difficult for you to breathe. Asthma is characterized as a chronic inflammatory disease.

Asthma is called an inflammatory disease because the lining of the airway becomes swollen, tightens, or twitches when you are in presence of an asthma trigger. This process also produces mucous, taking up the already limited room in the airways and blocking the passage of air.

When you are in the midst of an asthma attack, you may experience:

  • chest tightening
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing.

Triggers of an Asthma Attack

Particles in the air are the biggest culprits of asthma onset. These particles include:

  • chemicals
  • cockroach debris
  • dander
  • dust
  • mold
  • pollen
  • tobacco smoke.

Combating Asthma Triggers

The best way to reduce asthma attacks and decrease asthma symptoms is to try to eliminate triggers as much as possible. Here are some tips for managing your asthma and avoiding triggers:

  • Dander from pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, etc can be a major asthma trigger. If your pet triggers your asthma symptoms, the best thing you can do is give him or her up, sadly. However, if you are unable to let go of your pet, make sure to clean regularly and invest in a HEPA purifier to cleanse the air. You may also want to consider keeping your pet outside.
  • Chemicals in cleaning products can aggravate your asthma. Limit the use of these chemicals, invest in asthma-safe cleaning products, or have someone else do the cleaning.
  • Cockroach debris can also be a trigger for an asthma attack. Contact pest control to find out if you have a roach problem and have it eliminated.
  • Dust mites thrive wherever you sit or lie down, because they feed off shed of human skin. Vacuum couches and carpets regularly. Replace carpet with hardwood floors. Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs with plastic protectors.
  • Smoking and second-hand smoke are major triggers of asthma attacks. Quit smoking and request that smokers around you smoke in other areas.
  • To keep pollen under control, do not open windows during high pollen season. Keep only low-pollen plants in your yard, don’t hang laundry to dry outside and stay indoors when pollen counts are highest – generally between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
  • To reduce mold in your environment, throw away containers with standing water, pick up grass clippings, rake and dispose of leaves regularly, clean garbage cans, use humidifiers, and have your home checked for mold problems.

Prevent Asthma Attacks with Diet Management

A healthy diet and exercise will improve your overall health, including your asthma symptoms. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best foods to eat to control your asthma and improve your lung function. Foods high in vitamin C and E are also important in lung function and can help boost your immune system to keep you from getting a cold or the flu, which could exacerbate your asthma symptoms.

You can also limit your consumption of the following foods:

  • eggs
  • food coloring
  • milk
  • nuts
  • preservatives
  • shellfish
  • yeast.

If you are overweight, losing weight can greatly reduce the risk of asthma symptoms and attacks.

Exercise and Asthma

Asthma sufferers can and should exercise often. You may be afraid to exercise because you think it will cause an asthma attack, but regular exercise can actually decrease your attacks and overall symptoms. When exercising, keep the following in mind:

  • Always contact your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
  • Have your asthma inhalers available at all times.
  • Only do as much as you can, and build yourself up to an exercise level.
  • Sports games with frequent breaks are good for asthma sufferers, because it gives you time to catch your breath.
  • Stay away from your triggers when exercising.
  • Use your reliever inhaler during a warm-up if you experience shortness of breath during your workout.
  • Yoga is a popular form of exercise of asthm,a sufferers and helps to relax the muscles in the bronchial airway.

Medication for Asthma Relief

While lifestyle changes can dramatically decrease asthma symptoms, you may still need medication to manage your asthma. Two types of medication are usually prescribed to asthma sufferers: controllers and relievers. Take controller medication daily, and use reliever medications (usually asthma inhalers) for short-term boosters when exposed to triggers.

Live Your Life with Asthma

Take asthma seriously, as complications of asthma can lead you into the hospital or permanent damage to your bronchial airway. By making lifestyle adjustments and taking asthma medication, you will be able to continue to live the life you have loved healthy and happy.

Resources

Asthma Society of Canada. (2009). About asthma. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from The Asthma Society of Canada Web site: http://www.asthma.ca/adults/about/whatIsAsthma.php.

Mayo Clinic. (2008).Asthma: Lifestyle and home remedies. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/DS00021/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies.

NHS (n.d.). Living with asthma. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from the NHS choices Web site: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Asthma/Pages/Livewell.aspx?url=Pages/Healthyliving.aspx.