Asthma can be one of the most challenging and, quite frankly, one of the scariest health conditions in the world. After all, the inability to breathe is quite terrifying. It affects about 25 million Americans and can cost over $50 billion in a single year.
But you don’t have to sit back and let asthma ruin your quality of life. There are, in fact, many things you can do to control asthma and reduce its impact on your daily lifestyle.
While nothing can cure asthma, this information can at least help you control it through a comprehensive action plan...
What are the Signs of Asthma?Before you can start to work towards asthma control, it helps to have a full understanding of the condition, starting with the symptoms and diagnosis of asthma. If you know the symptoms, you’ll be able to determine whether you are suffering from asthma or another type of condition.
One of the most common, if not the most common, symptom of asthma is coughing. But coughing alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Generally, coughing caused by asthma is worse at night or in the early morning, which can obviously make it difficult to sleep. This coughing may also occur during exercise.
A wheezing or squeaking sound when breathing is another sign. This wheezing can, in many cases, be accompanied or even come before a bout of coughing.
Tightness in the chest is often reported among asthma patients. It may feel like someone is squeezing your chest, or it could feel as if you are lying down and someone is sitting on your chest.
Shortness of breath during exercise is also reported among people with asthma. Even exercise that may otherwise seem simple and easy can be more difficult, causing shortness of breath and general fatigue at abnormal rates. For example, asthma sufferers may have more difficulty climbing a flight of stairs, even if they are otherwise healthy.
Some or all of these symptoms certainly don’t guarantee that you have asthma, just like not having these symptoms doesn’t guarantee that you don’t have asthma. While these symptoms may point you in the right direction, the only way to know for sure is to seek a diagnosis from a trained professional.
Air Quality and Asthma: Is there a Connection?According to many organizations and a large amount of research, air pollution is entirely capable of making asthma symptoms worse.
A scientific article that examined the vast amount of research on the link between air quality and asthma essentially concluded that “short-term exposures (airborne pollution) is thought to increase the risk of exacerbations of asthma symptoms” and increasing research is now showing that long-term exposure could also contribute to asthma issues in both children and adults.
Vehicle traffic appears to be a major contributor to asthma development. One study, which was cited in the article mentioned above, concluded that the risk of developing asthma as an adult was increased the closer a person lives to major roadways, suggesting that vehicle exhaust could be a major contributor to asthma, especially in people with asthma urban populations.
Could Your Career Be Causing Asthma?Unfortunately for many Americans, there is a strong chance that their careers may be causing or increasing their asthma attacks. There are, in fact, many careers that are known to increase asthma. If you work as a spray painter, plumber, cleaner, health care professional, or even a hair stylist, you could be at a higher risk for asthma attacks and may need an inhaler.
Work-related asthma is a serious condition, so if you suspect you may be suffering from this problem, see your doctor right away.
How to Control Your Asthma SymptomsNow we move into the most important part of the entire subject: controlling the asthma and caring for your health. While nothing can completely guarantee a life free of asthma troubles, there are many lifestyle and habitual changes you can make to reduce your vulnerability. Of course, there is always the use of an inhaler and asthma medications, but these steps can help as well.
Avoid Your TriggersSimilar to allergies, some people’s asthma is triggered by certain materials and particles that are not as aggravating to others. Dust, for example, may be particularly bad for one asthma sufferer, while smoke might be more of a nuisance to another. The trick is to understand which substances are harmful to you. Once you understand your asthma trigger, you can make efforts to avoid them. In the end, this may be the best way to have healthy, happy lungs.
Stay in Better Health with ExerciseCardiovascular exercises that challenge your heart and lungs can be more difficult if you have asthma. However, staying in shape through routine exercise can be beneficial for asthma, according to study published in the European Respiratory Journal. While you don’t want to exercise so much that you get exercise-induced asthma, the study found that 12 weeks of supervised exercise led to improvements in asthma control. It appears that healthy lung function could be beneficial to your asthma control by reducing asthma severity.
Maintain a Healthy DietA diet full of quality nutrition is important for so many reasons, including asthma control. What diet should you consider? One study from Germany found that a “Mediterranean diet,” which is high on veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole, grains, and sea foods (and is recommended by many doctors as a healthy diet), offers some protection against wheezing. Interestingly, this study did not find a link between the same diet and allergy problems.
Keep Your Weight DownWhile there’s nothing you can do to cure your asthma, studies are discovering one risk factor that you can prevent: obesity. While the link between asthma and obesity are still unclear, it is clear that maintaining a healthy weight can help you breathe easier and improve your airways. If you have children, you should also make sure they are not overweight, as obesity in kids increases their chances of developing asthma.
Reduce Mold in the HomeMold is never a good thing in the home, but for anyone with asthma, mold can be an extremely problematic. Mold releases pores into the air that can be inhaled into the windpipes, causing asthma attacks. To prevent mold and enhance your asthma control, make sure the home is ventilated and avoid letting moisture sit uncleaned for a long period.
Keep Down the DanderWe all love our pets, but they may be causing serious problems with your asthma. To make sure your pets aren’t leaving dander all over the home (and the indoor air), keep them from laying on furniture and the beds, wash them regularly, and dust, mop, and vacuum on a routine basis.
These steps, combined with the use of an inhaler, anti-inflammatory drugs, and asthma management, could help you live a healthy, productive life free of asthma exacerbation.
Can Air Purifiers Improve Asthma Symptoms?There is another way that you can work towards better asthma control: using an air purifier in your home and (if possible) at work. While air purifiers can’t do everything to keep you from having asthma attacks, they can help reduce the amount of particles in the air and, in theory, reduce your chances of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath caused by asthma.
While there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on people with asthma, there are promising signs that air purification could help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. For example, a study that was published in Pediatrics found that air cleaners could be an effective part of a multi-faceted approach to controlling asthma. This study looked at 225 children ages 6 through 12 with asthma diagnoses. In a double-blind study, children were randomly assigned to receive active and inactive HEPA air purifiers. Compared to children who received the inactive purifier (essentially a placebo), there were fewer hospital visits for those that received the active filter.
Essentially, the HEPA cleaners led to a reduction in unscheduled asthma visits, but not, the study notes, to asthma symptoms reported by parents. This may indicate that HEPA filers could reduce the severity of asthma issues, but perhaps not the total amount of asthma events.
Choosing Air Purifiers for Asthma ControlTo fully control the amount of particulate matter in the air, it helps to have an air purifier that can remove and eliminate airborne pollutants, including mold spores, dust, dander, and pollen. Air purifiers for respiratory issues and asthma could be the key to greater comfort.
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