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Managing Asthma

The goal of asthma management is to achieve the best possible control of your asthma at all times with the least amount of side effects from asthma medication. With proper care and treatment, you can usually control your asthma and continue your normal activities.

Environment

The best way to manage your asthma is to avoid triggers that aggravate or cause your symptoms.

Allergens

Avoidance is the most effective way to manage allergic asthma. If you are allergic to airborne pollens and molds, use air conditioning in your home, your car, and at work. Keeping doors and windows closed is an effective way to keep out airborne pollens and molds. Dry your laundry inside during pollination times. Clean up areas of obvious mold growth. Consider a dehumidifier for damp basements. If you have seasonal allergic asthma, it may help to leave the geographic area during the allergy season. For example, if you are allergic to ragweed, consider going to places such as the Rocky Mountains or Northern Minnesota during the ragweed season.

If you are pet allergic, removing them from your home and cleaning the house thoroughly may give complete relief of symptoms. If you decide to keep your furry pets, wash them weekly. After washing your cat once a week for several weeks, you may reduce the amount of its allergen that floats in the air (airborne allergen). A special filter such as a HEPA can reduce the dander level in the air. Keep your pets outside as much as possible. Do not let them on your bed or even in your bedroom. Also, keep them out of other rooms in which you spend a lot of time. If you are allergic to animals, do not buy furniture or rugs that are made with animal hair.

For dust mite allergy, consider encasing the mattresses and pillows in allergy control barriers, washing the blankets and sheets weekly in hot water, and keeping the humidity down. Have the bedroom out of the basement and have smooth floors where possible. Total avoidance is hard and most patients need a daily controller. If you are allergic to cockroaches, use a roach control method to rid your home of these pests.

Irritants

If you have chronic asthma, avoid irritants such as dust, smoke, and cold air. Obviously, you cannot completely avoid all irritants, but you can take precautions.

Do not smoke. Try to avoid smoke-filled surroundings. Being in an enclosed space with a smoker can trigger asthmatic symptoms. Make sure your hobbies are not contributing to asthma symptoms. Paint fumes, wood dusts, paint removers and similar irritants can make asthma symptoms worse.

Remodeling a room in a house can increase symptoms of asthma due to the presence of these irritants and others, such as dust. If you have a forced-air furnace and are irritated by dust, use a filter for dust control and change it frequently. Avoid doing work that creates dust or working in a dusty environment. Wear a dust mask when it is impossible to avoid being exposed to dust. In cold temperatures use a cold-air mask that covers your mouth and nose. Avoid smoke of all types: tobacco smoke, smoke from burning leaves, burning rubbish and wood stoves. Smoke of any kind irritates the eyes, nose, and bronchial tubes.

Moving To a Different Climate

Most people with asthma will not be helped by moving to a different climate.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

When possible, reduce tension and fatigue. Although the effects of fatigue and tension on asthma vary from person to person, both can increase the effects of other factors on asthma. Eat nutritious meals, drink adequate water, and get adequate sleep. Balance work and relaxation.

Exercise

Exercise may aggravate asthma symptoms, but symptoms can be controlled by proper preparation and pre-medication. A number of Olympic athletes with asthma compete regularly and have won gold medals!

Benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Reduced chance of further
  • exercise-induced asthma
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Improved exercise tolerance & endurance
  • Improved quality of life

Medications

If medications are needed to help you manage your asthma, your allergist will help you decide what is best for you. There are many different medications available, and the type prescribed will depend on the severity of your asthma.

Some asthma medications can provide quick relief during an asthma attack by relaxing airway muscles to allow more normal breathing. This type of medication is called a bronchodilator. They are the primary “relievers.”

Other asthma medications are taken regularly to prevent or reduce inflammation and excessive mucus production and are called “controllers.” They are generally anti-inflammatory medications and need to be taken regularly even if you do not have symptoms.

Children or adults unable to use an inhaler are often treated with a nebulizer. This is a device that vaporizes liquid medications into a fine mist that can be inhaled through a mouthpiece or mask; a spacer device can also be used by many. Less commonly, other forms of medications are used, such as capsules of dry powder for inhalation.

Never discontinue or cut back on your medications without first discussing it with your allergist.

Know when to get help for your asthma resource guide book cover

Know When To Get Help For Your Asthma

There are many different types of asthma but no matter the trigger, any asthma attack can be scary. Many people find themselves wondering when to seek follow up care. In essence they wonder, “How bad does it have to get before I need to go in?” Dr. Bubak has developed this resource to help you determine when you should get follow up care for your asthma.