Don’t Pet a Pet
The best approach is to not have a pet, as they can be a potential trigger for your asthma. The problem is not only the hair of the animal but also dander – the dead, dry skin flakes that the pets shed. If you don’t want to part with your pet, the next logical step is to make very strict rules about living with it. Do not allow your pet into the bedroom. If the animal is in the bedroom at any time during the day, the dander will remain in there for hours. If you do have direct contact with your pet (or any other animal, for that matter), wash your hands right away. If you simply cannot keep your hands off your pet, at least keep your face away. In addition, try bathing your pet every other week in warm water with no soap.
Kick the Butt
Tobacco smoke can be an irritant as well as an allergen that triggers an allergic response leading to an asthma attack. Tobacco smoke is one of the worst irritants known. It paralyzes the tiny hairlike cilia along the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. It reduces immune response, and leaves the smoker much more susceptible to an upper respiratory infection. There is not a single redeeming feature to cigarette smoking. Given the known health risks associated with smoking, asthma patients should make every effort to stop smoking, either on their own or with the help of a smoking-cessation program. Non-smokers who live with a smoker are no better off. So if there’s someone in your household who won’t quit smoking, ask that individual to take his or her habit outdoors.
While each person responds to weather conditions differently, some general trends may be noted. Keep a close watch on how the weather affects you. Try to avoid conditions that can cause you problems. For example, you should stay indoors when it is cold, since cold air can cause spasms in your bronchial tubes. Stay indoors if the wind is strong too. While gusts of wind can blow pollution and smog away, they can carry pollen in your direction. If you enjoy walking in the rain, you’re in luck, because rain tends to wash away allergens, pollutants, and irritants.
Watch What You Eat
The question whether foods trigger an asthma attack is yet to be answered. Some foods such as nuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, and strawberries can cause an array of allergic responses, including asthma symptoms. Sulfites in wine can have a similar effect. While the information available today suggests that the chances are small that food allergies are a trigger for asthma in adults, it is still wise to reduce the consumption of foods that you notice make your asthma worse. But do consult your doctor before making changes in your diet. Allergies to certain types of food, especially milk and wheat, can be a trigger of asthma in children.
Eating away from home can sometimes be a problem. If you are eating at a restaurant, inquire about the ingredients in the dish you want to order, as well as the method of preparation. Steer clear of alcohol too, especially if you are taking medications for your asthma.
A problem in the upper airways, such as a respiratory tract infection can trigger an asthma attack. Everybody wants to be in a state of good health. For a person with asthma, maintaining good health can mean reduced instances of asthma attacks.
For years, people with asthma have been told to avoid exercise because it would trigger attacks. You can exercise but with some precautions. Always keep a bronchodilator inhaler with you. If you feel tightness in your chest and can’t work through it, use the inhaler. If you are out in very cold or dry air, wear a scarf around your nose and mouth to heat the air before breathing it in. If one type of exercise still brings on attacks, try another form of exercise. For example, you may not be able to tolerate running, but you may be able to swim comfortably.
Breathing exercises provide a form of relaxation and can be beneficial to patients during an asthma attack. However, it would be a mistake to rely on breathing exercises alone to control an asthma flare. As long as this rule is not broken, breathing exercises are fine for those patients who find them beneficial. You can practice controlled breathing, which concentrates on slow inhalation through the nose. It is also suggested that before starting these breathing exercises, you blow your nose to make sure that your air passages are clear of all foreign matter. Then sit in a chair in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath. Your abdomen should expand as you do this exercise. Exhale slowly, feeling your abdomen relax as your breath comes out of your nose. Repeat this exercise three times a day (but never right after eating).
Control Your Weight
Unfortunately, some asthma medications can result in weight gain. An overweight person has to breathe more heavily, and his heart works harder to pump blood. Weight reduction is very important. If you are overweight, you and your doctor should work together to establish a diet plan that will both reduce your weight and keep you fit at the same time.