Struggling with asthma this spring? John Bottrell shares some key tips for keeping asthma and allergy symptoms under control.
I've lived with asthma for nearly five decades now. Early on, it controlled me and prevented me from doing many things I enjoyed. But after a while, things changed for the better — I learned that I could get my asthma under control and keep it that way.
Here are a few of my tips to help you do the same.
1). Learn your asthma triggers
Sometimes this can be easy. When I was 10 years old, I went through allergy testing. I guess I shouldn't use the word "easy" because the allergy testing was anything but straightforward. That said, it did help me learn very early on what things may trigger a reaction for me.
I learned I'm severely allergic to pollen, dust mites, and mold spores — these are my asthma triggers. Some people with asthma have difficulty finding their asthma triggers, as allergy testing isn't always efficient for everyone.
It can be tricky to nail down which things are causing a reaction because we encounter so many substances daily. It can take a long time, but it's worth the effort to identify them. Remember - you can't fight an enemy you can't see, and your doctor is there to help!
2). Devise a strategy with your doctor to avoid asthma triggers
Your doctor can help you here, too. I found it was easier to learn my triggers than to avoid them, but it's all about the small things you can do to minimize impact.
For me, that means washing my bedding more frequently to minimize dust mites and avoiding going into the musty basement too often.
Avoiding triggers altogether is a major challenge (and frankly, not possible), but as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at it — and my asthma control has gotten better, too.
Your do's and don'ts may be different than mine, so work with your doctor to develop the best strategy plan for you.
3). Tune into your warning symptoms
This is another neat thing about asthma. It talks to us. It tells us when an asthma attack is impending by offering warning symptoms. When we feel an oncoming asthma attack, it may be staved off by swift action.
Allow me to give you an example.
One day, I decided to clean the basement, and as I was moving things around, my chest got tight. My nose started to run. My chin itched. I sneezed. My body was telling me that I was inhaling dust mites and saying, "Stop it! Get out of here!"
In the past, I would have ignored these symptoms and continued cleaning, and I would've had an asthma attack.
Today, I heed the warnings. I stop. Sometimes, I don't even start. I let someone else do it. Knowing what the warning signs are — and what to do when you experience them — can potentially prevent more serious health complications.
4). Open up to trying new treatments
I think I'm safe saying this: Those of us with asthma can be a bit stubborn. We find something that works, and we never want to change. I know I've felt this way in the past. Change is hard.
However, I've learned it's good to explore new treatments and ways to manage my asthma. I say this because none of the things I use today were part of my treatment plan 10 years ago.
Remember that our needs to manage our asthma can change over time. That may mean that our symptom management plans need to change as well.
Today, my asthma is far better controlled than it was back then, and that might not be the case if I'd resisted changing up my treatment plan. So, it certainly pays to be open-minded about discussing options with your doctor.
5). Never quit learning about asthma
You learn many things about asthma by trial and error, but it doesn't always have to be this way. Many people out there living with asthma share their stories and tips. Reach out to them online!
Many researchers are investigating our disease and have published papers and written books. They've created blogs in communities like ours. So, all this wisdom is available. The more you learn, the better equipped you'll be in your journey to obtaining better asthma control.
Today, I have my asthma under control — better than ever before. It still causes me issues occasionally, but overall, I'm satisfied with my quality of life. Yet, I still strive for even better asthma control.
I hope these tips help anyone who feels their life is dictated by their asthma or the fear of an oncoming attack. They certainly helped me!
For more information on managing asthma, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-ALL-NP-00104 March 2022