Managing asthma is not something your doctor can do for you all by himself. Asthma self help is an important part of treating and managing your condition so that it doesn’t take over your entire life. Your doctor may prescribe both daily medication and medication to take in case of an acute asthma episode, but the task of minimizing risk of asthma attack and taking care of yourself on a daily basis is largely up to you and your family. Learning some key asthma self help tricks can help you keep your asthma under control so that it doesn’t interfere with your daily life.
Because asthma can be caused, triggered or worsened by so many things, there are many things that you can do to lessen the frequency and severity of the symptoms. Your doctor will offer important suggestions in addition to medication to help you manage your asthma. Think of those suggestions as a personalized asthma self help plan. A major part of asthma self help involves avoiding asthma triggers. Some ways that you can help yourself if you or someone in your family has asthma include:
- The first and most important step in asthma self help is to follow your doctor’s orders. Don’t stop taking daily medication just because you feel better. If he’s prescribed daily peak flow measurements, be sure to follow instructions carefully and measure daily to monitor your condition.
- If you smoke, quit. Whether the asthma sufferer is you or a child in your family, cigarette smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers known.
- Keep the house dust-free – or as close to dust-free as possible. Dust is another common asthma trigger. Use a cylinder vacuum instead of an upright – preferably one that encloses the vacuum cleaner bag inside a solid canister to minimize pumping dust back into the air.
- If you can, remove carpets and heavy draperies. They’re dust-catchers that easily breed dust mites. If you can’t remove them, vacuum them frequently using a canister vacuum cleaner.
- Avoid using down feather pillows and comforters, and use a plastic cover on your mattress. Mattresses and pillows can harbor dust mites. The same goes for stuffed animals and other ‘soft’ decorations.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf in cold weather. Cold air is another common asthma trigger.
- If your asthma is triggered by allergens, monitor the outside air quality daily. Avoid open fields and woodsy areas during peak pollen seasons, and take extra care when air quality is in danger ranges.
- Mold is another common allergen that triggers asthma. Keeping mold down is another important part of asthma self help care. Dry wet laundry immediately, and wash and disinfect bathrooms and showers regularly. Remove houseplants, as mold grows in their soil.
- Pet dander can also trigger asthma symptoms. If you can’t part with a pet because of emotional ties, at least keep it out of the bedroom to minimize your exposure to dander.
- Be aware of any food or ingested allergies, and avoid foods, medications and drinks that cause allergic reactions.