Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. Asthma is quite prevalent in the United States of America, with approximately 25 million Americans suffering from it. Although more common in the adult population, asthma also afflicts 7% of children population.
Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects the airways. It manifests in episodes of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and confusion.
The underlying cause of these symptoms is narrowing of the airways and mucus buildup following exposure to particular triggers. These triggers are common allergens like dust, smoke, mites, pollens, or other factors like exercise, intense emotions, weather, and medications.
Around 70% of asthma cases are due to hereditary genetic mutations. The immune system becomes overactive due to these mutations, thus making airways highly sensitive. As the changes occur within the genes, curing asthma remains no longer an option.
However, palliative care is available. Palliative care focuses on managing symptoms and preventing future asthma attacks. It helps patients control their asthma so they can live happy life.
So, if you or your loved one has asthma, here are eight essential tips that can help you keep your asthma in control.
Symptoms and severity of asthma vary from individual to individual. Few people get chronic, frequent asthma attacks, yet others can easily manage their symptoms. Even for the same individual, symptoms may change from time to time. Thus, a personalized plan is necessary to control asthma. You can create an asthma plan with the help of your healthcare provider. Usually, a physician helps track symptoms and guides on controlling the attacks.
However, nurses with an MSN FNP degree can also detect your triggers, aid you in monitoring attacks, and guide your family on what to do in an emergency.
Knowing your triggers is one thing but avoiding them is entirely another. Steering clear of these triggers is essential to keep your asthma in control. Note down what substances, emotions, or environments cause your asthma to flare up and try to avoid them.
For example, if your asthma flares up due to mites exposure, wash your bed sheets every week and use a dust-proof mattress.
Similarly, if strong scents irritate your airways, try using fragrance-free body care products to prevent asthma attacks. In addition, if your asthma spikes up during the pollen season, try to stay indoors and take a shower after you come back from the outside.
As asthma is a lifelong disease, patients take treatment medications each day. However, most individuals skip medicines when they start feeling better. This can further worsen asthma.
It is important to follow your physician’s recommendations and take your preventive drugs on time. These drugs are crucial for controlling asthma because they provide long-term relief and prevent future attacks from happening.
Lastly, take the time to learn and properly administer your medications through an inhaler.
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Smoke can drastically increase the frequency of asthma attacks. Smoke from factories, fires, and candles does aggravate asthma, but the real trouble is caused by tobacco smoke.
Tobacco smoke exacerbates asthma due to the irritants it contains; these irritants increase mucus production, destroy cilia, and constrict airways.
Similarly, the carbon monoxide, tar, and nicotine in cigarette smoke cause inflammation in the airways of passive smokers.
Therefore, it is essential to stay away from areas with higher smoke content, ban smoking within your house, and use filters to clear out the air. Moreover, if you are a smoker, try joining a support group to quit smoking.
Most people often abandon exercise when they’re diagnosed with asthma, but that should not be the case. Even with asthma, one should try to stay active as much as one can. Exercise can benefit the patient by reducing inflammation, strengthening lung muscles, and improving lung capacity.
Consequently, the health of the lungs and the body will get better. Nevertheless, it is necessary to choose the right type of exercise to prevent exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
Therefore, asthma patients can opt for breathing exercises, yoga, brisk walking, and swimming.
As wonderful as having a pet is, keeping an animal when you have asthma can be problematic. A particular protein in the saliva, urine, and dander of animals can trigger an asthma attack.
Similarly, the fur of many animals irritates the airways, worsening asthma symptoms. Most common pet animals, like cats, dogs, hamsters, and horses can set off asthma.
Therefore, it is better if you were to avoid keeping pets. If you already have a pet and cannot let it go, the best possible solution is to keep your distance. Try not to touch or hug the pet.
Moreover, frequently wash your hands and clothes, use HEPA filters to keep the air clean, and prevent the pet from entering your room.
Take notice of the air you breathe in your home and outside. Try to stay in warm, moist, and clean air to avoid exacerbating your asthma. It is crucial because dry cold air can quickly cause trouble for asthmatic patients.
Dry cold air can dehydrate the mucus and sinuses, which leads to higher chances of inhaling irritants that irritate and inflame the airways. Therefore, to prevent inflammation, you must keep the air humidity levels in check.
A hygrometer that measures the water content of the air can make this possible. In addition, a humidifier is also necessary to make the air humid and warm but be sure to keep the moisture level between 30-40% to avoid mite infestation in your home.
Various viruses attack the respiratory system and cause wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Consequently, asthmatic patients with cold, flu, or other viral diseases are more prone to asthma flare-ups.
Therefore, patients must get vaccinated. A flu shot can help protect the patient from seasonal flu. Similarly, a pneumonia shot prevents pneumococcal pneumonia, and a zoster vaccine reduces the risk of shingles.
However, if your healthcare provider decides against a vaccine, you can take preventive measures by wearing a mask, washing hands, and avoiding close contact with the sick.
Asthma is different for everybody. Its symptoms vary, and for some, getting diagnosed with asthma can be a terrifying experience, but it does not have to be. If you take proper care, you can keep your symptoms in check and avoid chronic attacks. All you have to do is identify your triggers and actively avoid them. In addition, keep your house clean, maintain an active lifestyle, keep away from smoke, and maintain your distance from pets.