Take a Breath…and Control of Your Asthma
October 12, 2021, 5:57 pm
Take a Breath…and Control of Your Asthma
Asthma is a condition that currently affects over 25 million adults and children in the US, and according to the CDC, over 10 million had at least one asthma attack in 2019. During an asthma attack, the airways of the lungs swell and constrict. Symptoms can include reoccurring episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, or coughing at night.
People who suffer from asthma attacks have what is called “uncontrolled asthma”. This is when your symptoms have a noticeable impact on your quality of life, perhaps due to trouble breathing, loss of sleep, missing school or work, and extra hospital visits. When asthma is uncontrolled, attacks happen more often because the constant lung inflammation can easily lead to sudden flare ups. But there is good news—with medication, it is treatable!
Taking control of your asthma can help keep you feeling better now and prevent long-term effects later on, such as permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes, repeat respiratory infections, and increasingly severe asthma attacks, which could mean more trips to the hospital.
Avoiding the things that you notice trigger your asthma attacks is a good start to managing your asthma. Many things in your environment can be triggers, and everyone is different.
Common triggers are:
- Tobacco smoke
- Indoor factors like dust, pet dander, or mold
- Outdoor factors like pollen, air pollution, or thick smoke
- Aerosolized cleaners or other sprays
If exercise is a trigger for you, you might have Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm, or EIB. Sometimes, you can have EIB without having other typical asthma symptoms. Visit the Cox Health website for more information on asthma and exercise.
Next, talk with your doctor to find the best treatment options for you. Not sure how to get started? Make a list of your asthma symptoms and their frequency, along with your suspected or known triggers, to help get the discussion going.
There are two types of asthma medicines which your doctor might prescribe:
- Quick relief
- For immediate asthma attack control, like a rescue inhaler
- Long-term control
- Typically taken daily
- Helps prevent attacks and decrease their severity when they do happen.
There are many different options for daily long-term medications, and it could be in the form of a pill or a medicine you breathe in.
Follow the exact directions for taking your prescribed medication. Tell your doctor if you notice that you need your quick relief medicine often (more than twice a week), because there may be a better option for you.
Always continue taking your long-term control medicine, even when you aren’t having symptoms, so you can keep your lungs functioning at their best.
Your doctor can also help you come up with an Asthma Action Plan that you can use to show others how you want to handle your symptoms, particularly in case you have a debilitating episode. Share your Action Plan with someone who might need to know how to help you when you have an attack. It is a good idea to share your infant’s or child’s Asthma Action Plan with your childcare provider or their school so staff can be better prepared to help your child if needed.
What else can you do to keep your lungs healthy this year?
Get your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations!
It’s especially important for people with asthma to get their flu shot, because they are more likely to develop serious flu complications. Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine can help fend off unnecessary respiratory stress and other serious COVID-19 symptoms that can occur in cases where a person is unvaccinated.
Here are the CDC sites that offer more information on asthma related to these two viruses:
When your asthma is under control, you:
- Will breathe easier,
- Can exercise and be active,
- Will get better sleep,
- Won’t have to miss school or work,
- Take less trips to the hospital….
And most importantly, you will feel better!
Here are some resources that are available to you online:
- Click here to visit the online Allergy & Asthma Network. This site has great online resources for people with asthma, including extensive information on triggers, symptoms, treatment, medications, prevention, and long-term management.
- The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is a great source of information as well – you can find them here. They offer Asthma Action Plan form templates and a 24/7 Asthma Support community to help you connect with others.
- Cox Health’s Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Clinic at our Ferrell-Duncan location helps patients manage allergies, asthma, immune deficiency diseases, and other allergy-related problems. Follow the link to their page for more information.