For most people, asthma is a lifelong condition, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with breathing problems day-to-day. Working with a health care provider and paying attention to your symptoms helps to control asthma and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.
As an allergy and immunology specialist, Dr. Reinhart Kage, MD, helps patients manage their asthma symptoms so that they can breathe easier. If your asthma isn't as well controlled as it could be, there are some steps you can take to improve your asthma control.
Here, the team at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, LLC in Manchester, Connecticut, share our top tips for managing your asthma.
Know your asthma triggers
Take note of when and where you experience symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing. Identifying and limiting your exposure to your asthma triggers plays a role in controlling your asthma. Cold air, exercise, allergens in the air such as pollen, and pet dander are all common triggers. Strong odors can also trigger asthma attacks in some people.
While food and drinks aren’t common asthma triggers, some items, such as beer, wine, potatoes, dried fruit, and shrimp, may contain sulfites, which can aggravate asthma in some people.
Have an action plan
People diagnosed with asthma quickly realize how important it is to always have a plan in place in case your asthma flares up. Asthma can be extremely dangerous if left uncontrolled. It’s critical that everyone in your family is aware of your action plan and knows what to do in an emergency.
An asthma action plan is a stated strategy of steps to keep your asthma under control and address flare-ups. The goal is to reduce asthma emergencies. Asthma action plans are tailored to your specific needs, but each plan includes when and how to take medications, a list of potential triggers, early warning signs of flare-ups and what to do if they occur.
Understand your medications
Patients with asthma need to know how medications or asthma inhalers work, and it’s vital to use them as directed. There are various devices available to deliver your medications. It’s typical to use a rescue inhaler for sudden attacks and to take long-term medication to prevent flares.
A peak flow meter, which tells you how fast you can blow air out, can help you learn the patterns of your asthma. When your airways are fully open, the reading will be high; when they begin to narrow, the reading will be lower.
Following your asthma action plan, you can use these readings, along with your symptoms, to determine when to tweak your treatment.
Some types of exercise may be more difficult with asthma, but this doesn't mean that they aren't beneficial or that you should avoid them. Regular physical activity is essential for overall health, including the health of your lungs. Exercising just 30 minutes a day improves asthma control.
If intense running or training is too much for you, try hiking, biking, or yoga. Swimming is a great sport for people who have asthma because the warm, moist air around most pools generally doesn’t trigger symptoms. Get your doctor’s approval before beginning a new exercise regimen.
Work with an asthma specialist
The course of asthma changes over time. That’s why adhering to your asthma plan and regularly consulting with a health care provider is a part of living well with asthma.
It’s helpful to track your symptoms in an asthma journal and bring it with you. Dr. Kage can evaluate your case and discuss a treatment plan to get your asthma under better control.
To schedule a visit with Dr. Kage to discuss asthma management, call our office to talk with a knowledgeable team member who can assist you in setting up an appointment. YYou also can request an appointment online through this website.