Living your best life — with asthma


by Nina Desai, MD

Jun 18, 2018

If you’re one of the more than 25 million Americans living with asthma, you know firsthand the various challenges it can bring. But asthma does not need to overtake your life.

As a physician, I’m here to remind you that there are ways you can live your best life with asthma.

Know your triggers and how to avoid them

For starters, avoid any triggers that may affect your breathing. These include allergens such as:

  • cigarette smoke
  • stress
  • dust mites
  • getting sick with a cold or flu
  • lung, ear and sinus infections
  • pollen
  • perfumes
  • strong cleaning products like bleach
  • air pollution
  • mold
  • insect droppings
  • animal dander
  • very cold air

Most people know what their triggers are and try to avoid them. However, on the off-chance that you come into contact with those triggers, be sure to wash your hands frequently and get your yearly flu shot to avoid getting sick.

Stay indoors when air pollution is high and don’t exercise near a busy road. On winter days, be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a scarf. To avoid dust mites, you can buy special covers for your bedding and be sure to wash bed sheets frequently. To avoid mold, be sure to clean out things that can get moldy such as sinks, showers, basements, tiles and leaky plumbing. You can also use a dehumidifier to help as well.

To avoid pollen, don’t go out when the counts are high — keep windows closed and bathe as soon as you get back home after being outside. If you have pets, be sure to clean and vacuum frequently so that pet hair does not pile up and trigger your asthma.

Exercising and asthma

For some people, it may be hard to avoid these triggers. Exercising, for example, is good for your health and builds up stamina. But if exercise is a trigger for you, be sure to take an extra dose of your inhaler to help with your breathing.

So as long as your asthma is under control, you can do any activity that you enjoy — you just need to avoid your triggers. Be sure to warm-up before you exercise and avoid exercise when it’s cold outside.

When to see a doctor?

If you find that your current inhaler is not helping and it’s hard for you to breathe, it’s time to go see a doctor. Most physicians will give you an Asthma Action Plan. This plan will detail when and how you should use your inhaler, when you should see your doctor and when it’s time to go to the ER. You should always keep the Action Plan close by — maybe posting it on the refrigerator or taking a picture of it and storing it on your phone.

Asthma is very treatable and shouldn’t limit your activities. Just keep in mind the things that trigger it, know your plan and it will be smooth sailing!

If you have trouble breathing or experience asthma symptoms, visit a physician at Baylor Scott & White Health.

About the Author

Nina Desai, MD, is a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Clinic – Austin North Burnet.

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