You know the drill. You wake up in the morning, and you can’t breathe. You feel like your lungs are on fire. You go outside, and it’s worse. A few minutes later, you’re back inside, wheezing and wheezing until you feel like you’re going to pass out.
You’re not alone. Asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide, and it’s estimated that over 10% of the U.S. population suffers from it—about 32 million Americans! Living with asthma can be a difficult and challenging experience, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to help you manage asthma.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways, which are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. It happens when the lining of the airways becomes inflamed, swollen, and irritated. This causes them to tighten up or swell, which makes it hard for you to breathe.
However, asthma differs from other lung diseases because it isn’t always linked to an underlying cause. Instead, it’s usually triggered by something in the environment, such as pollen or pet dander. Asthma can be managed with medications and by avoiding triggers that cause flare-ups.
What Is An Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack is a sudden and severe swelling of the airways. It happens when the muscles around your airways tighten and narrow, causing you to have trouble breathing. When this happens, it can feel like you’re suffocating—like there’s no room for the air to get in or out.
As your lungs struggle to take in oxygen, they become inflamed and irritated, which makes it even harder for them to work properly. That’s why it feels like there isn’t enough air in the room—you literally can’t get enough oxygen because of how much trouble your lungs are having!
When you have an asthma attack, you may notice that your chest feels tight or heavy. Your throat may feel scratchy or sore, and you might cough a lot more than usual. You might also be wheezing—which means that when you breathe out, it sounds like you’re whistling or squeaking (like a mouse). And if you have asthma, these symptoms can happen at any time—not just when it’s cold outside!
What Triggers An Asthma Attack?
When you have asthma, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms of an attack: shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. But what triggers those attacks? Well, there are a lot of factors that can set off an asthma attack.
- Asthma triggers may include:
- Your environment (pollution, allergens like dust mites or pet dander)
- A change in temperature or humidity
- Physical activity/exercise
- Colds and flu
- Heartburn and acid reflux
Learn How To Manage Asthma
Asthma is a life-long condition that can be managed. If you have asthma, it’s important to take care of yourself and learn how to manage your symptoms.
Here are five effective means to manage your asthma:
Know And Avoid Your Triggers
One of the most important things you can do to manage your asthma is to know and avoid your triggers. Triggers are the things that set off an asthma attack, and they can be everyday occurrences—like pollen in the air or smoke from a nearby fire—or they can be more specific to certain people, like dust or mold.
For some people, avoiding triggers is easier said than done. If you know what your triggers are, you can take steps to reduce their effects on your body and make sure that they don’t cause an asthma attack.
If you’re not aware of your triggers, you might want to start by keeping a diary of when your asthma symptoms flare up and what happens before or during these episodes. This will help you identify the specific factors that trigger your asthma. Once you know what sets off an attack, you’ll be able to take steps to avoid those triggers.
Keep Lungs As Healthy As Possible
Whether you’re managing asthma or just want to proactively protect your lungs, there are several steps you can take to keep your lungs healthy. For starters, you should avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smoking cigarettes causes damage to the lungs that can lead to asthma attacks and make symptoms worse.
In addition, do deep breathing exercises. These exercises help open up the airways, so less mucus is produced and less phlegm gets stuck in your lungs. Other than that, it’s important to exercise regularly. Exercise helps to increase lung capacity and reduce the risk of asthma attacks. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which benefits people with asthma.
Finally, if you have allergies or are exposed to allergens such as pollen or dust mites regularly, talk to your doctor about getting allergy shots.
Use An Asthma Action Plan
Your asthma action plan is your best friend when it comes to managing symptoms.
If you have asthma, you already know that symptoms can pop up at any time—but if you have an asthma action plan, you’ll know exactly what to do when they do. It’s like a blueprint for managing asthma, and it can help you keep your symptoms under control. It’s similar to a diet or exercise program—you know what you need to do and when to do it, so you don’t have to think about it every day.
An asthma action plan often includes instructions for using your asthma medication and when and how often to use it. It also includes instructions on what to do if you have an asthma attack. You can write an asthma action plan yourself or get one from your doctor.
Go For An Annual Asthma Check-up
Your annual asthma check-up is one of the most important steps you can take to stay healthy. This check-up involves a physical examination by your doctor and an assessment of your asthma symptoms and how they affect your daily life.
Your doctor will also ask questions about your family history of asthma and allergies, any medications or treatments you’ve tried in the past year, and other lifestyle factors that could be affecting your condition.
Moreover, they may also want to test how strong your lungs are by having you breathe into a device called a spirometer (also called a peak flow meter). This can help determine whether there are changes in how air moves through your lungs over time that isn’t related to asthma flares alone.
While it may seem like a lot at first glance, this process is actually quite simple. Once you’re done with it, you’ll better understand how to manage your asthma symptoms!
Work With Your Healthcare Provider
Your healthcare provider is the best person to help you manage your asthma. They can help you find the best treatment options for your needs. They can also answer any questions you have about managing your asthma.
Your healthcare provider will also educate you about how to prevent flare-ups and how to manage an asthma attack if one occurs. They’ll help you understand what makes your symptoms worse or better so that you can avoid those triggers and use their recommendations as best as possible.
Moreover, your healthcare provider will help you develop an asthma action plan that outlines the steps you need to take to control your asthma symptoms and flare-ups. An asthma action plan can help you stay on top of your asthma and avoid severe attacks. In addition, it’s a good idea to review your asthma action plan with your healthcare provider regularly.
Tips On Working With Your Healthcare Provider
Here are some tips for working effectively with your healthcare provider:
- Ask for a written treatment plan, including what you need to do daily and how often you should see your healthcare provider.
- Make sure you understand the instructions in your treatment plan and ask questions if anything is unclear or confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your healthcare provider is there for you!
- If you don’t understand something about your treatment plan, ask for clarification before leaving the appointment. You can even write down any questions that come up during appointments to make it easier to remember when it’s time for another appointment.
- Know when it’s time to seek second opinions or specialty care—and don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider if they think this might be necessary!
The key to managing asthma is to be proactive about your health and to take the steps necessary to keep your asthma under control. Another thing you can do is learn as much as possible about your condition. The more you know about it, the better equipped you’ll be to manage it successfully.
If you have questions about your asthma treatment or need help managing your symptoms, talk with your doctor or another health professional specializing in asthma care. They can provide valuable insights into how to best manage your symptoms and keep them under control.