Living with asthma
Lifestyle and home care
Careful use of prescribed medications can go a long way in helping an asthmatic person live a normal and healthy life. There are several other ways a person can help to alleviate potential asthma attacks.
- Reducing your exposure to triggers (wherever possible): Air conditioners are handy in that they reduce the amount of airborne pollen around you, lower indoor humidity levels and exposure to dust mites. You can also minimise dust by replacing carpets with linoleum or hardwood flooring, using washable curtains or blinds and dustproof linens. Humidifiers can help to maintain optimal humidity levels. You can also get into the habit of preventing mould spores (in the kitchen and bathroom), reducing pet dander, cleaning regularly and covering your nose and mouth during cold weather.
- Maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet and regular exercise: An asthmatic person shouldn’t become fearful of exercise. Regular activity can help to strengthen the heart and lungs, which in turn will help to control asthma symptoms. Being overweight also worsens asthma symptoms, as well as causing other health concerns. Foods which worsen asthma symptoms and bring on bouts of heartburn and indigestion (or GERD) can also be avoided.
- Take your medications and follow your action plan: Asthma is an ongoing condition and requires regular monitoring and treatment. Your doctor will provide you with a detailed plan for taking your medications and managing potential triggers, as well as advise on lifestyle changes you can most benefit from (diet and nutrition and, fitness and exercise). Your condition will be erratic and your treatment plan flexible, but you must always take your medications as prescribed. It is highly advisable not to change your medication dosage without your doctor having directed you to. You can also monitor your breathing and lung function. Your doctor will help you to learn how to measure and record your peak air flow at home with a peak flow metre. Sometimes your lung function may decrease before you’re even aware of any obvious symptoms (coughing or wheezing).
- Get vaccinations: Viral and bacterial infections can worsen asthma symptoms. You can help prevent bouts of flu, colds and pneumonia by getting yourself vaccinated during high infection seasons (autumn, winter, spring).
- Identify and treat an asthma attack swiftly: If you are able to act quickly, you can help to prevent a severe asthma attack by taking your medications for rapid-acting relief as directed by your doctor. Stop any activity immediately and ensure that you are seen by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Coping with asthma
Any kind of health condition diagnosis can be a stressful experience. Coping can sometimes be challenging and frustrating, leaving you feeling limited when it comes to your quality of life. Coping with asthma doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience, forcing you to lead a limited life. The best way to cope with this type of condition is to understand it. In this way, you assume control over your day-to-day life.
It is important to be mindful of your activity and pace yourself. When you need a break between tasks or activities, allow yourself a breather. Overdoing things will contribute to worsening your condition.
Take your doctor’s advice seriously. He or she will have supplied you with informative guidelines as part of your treatment plan to help you live your best life and avoid stimulating triggers. Getting into mindful habits will help prevent attacks and ensure that you can best manage your symptoms comfortably.
As with many other conditions that can bring on emotional responses such as despair, frustration or anxiety, talking to others helps. As human beings, we naturally take comfort in being able to share challenges with others facing similar obstacles. If it helps, make use of support groups or talk to others known to you who are also coping with asthma.
A child learning to cope with asthma is often a challenge within itself. An adult may be able to understand the nature of his / her condition a lot quicker than a child might. Children suffering from asthma may become fearful as a result of not being able to understand the reasons behind their symptoms, especially if they experience frequent attacks. Be encouraging and help to focus a child’s attention on the things they can do instead of those he or she can’t.
It is just as important for an adult to focus on the positives too. Living and coping with asthma is going to be as limiting as you make it. In just the same light, by focussing on what best benefits you instead of what holds you back, your quality of life will certainly improve.