5 Coping Tips for Adult Asthma
Many people think of asthma as primarily a childhood disease, but this is not the case. Even though some children experience an improvement in their symptoms as they grow older, many cases of asthma persist into adulthood, and for others, asthma doesn’t even appear until later in life.
If you are an adult living with asthma, you understand how this disease can significantly impact your life—from missed days at work, to difficulty performing daily activities, to hospitalizations, and more. Yet there are things you can do to make living with asthma more manageable.
1. Monitor your symptoms.
It’s often a good idea to keep a log of your symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. Pay attention to what you were doing, the time of day, whether you used asthma medication, and your response. You may also want to keep track of your Peak Flow Rate using a simple hand-held device to test your lung function. This is important information for you and your doctor to determine if your asthma is being properly controlled.
2. Know your triggers and how to avoid them.
If you’ve had asthma for a long time, you likely already know what causes your asthma to flare up, but if you are newly diagnosed or your asthma seems to be worsening, your log of symptoms may also help you pinpoint your triggers. Things like pollen, dust, smoke, and animal dander are common examples. The more you can identify what causes your asthma, the better you can avoid or eliminate these things, thereby decreasing your asthma flares.
3. Understand your medications.
There are two types of medications that are generally used to treat asthma—one helps with long-term control while the other “rescue” medication works quickly to relieve acute symptoms. Make sure you know the difference between the two and when they should be used. Always keep your rescue medication nearby in case of an emergency.
Literature suggests a large number of asthma patients don’t use their inhalers correctly, and therefore do not get proper benefit. Don’t be afraid to ask your health care provider any questions you may have regarding your inhaler. You may even want to demonstrate how you use your inhaler to make sure you’re performing all of the steps as you should.
4. Team up with your doctor.
Your doctor will develop a personalized plan to help control your asthma, often called an asthma action plan, and it’s important you’re a part of this process. This plan will guide the daily management of your asthma and will help you recognize and respond to your symptoms. Working with your doctor to create your action plan will allow you to find a system that works best for you.
5. Keep yourself healthy.
Asthma symptoms may be exacerbated by illness and other health conditions, so you should try to keep your body as strong and healthy as possible. Keep these things in mind:
Physical activity is important. Even though it may be a trigger for some, it’s essential for good health. Talk to your doctor about how to manage your symptoms while staying active.
Watch your weight. Obesity is linked to asthma, and weight loss can actually improve asthma control.
Don’t smoke. Smoking causes irritation to your airways and damages your lungs, making you more prone to asthma attacks.
See your doctor for regular checkups. This is a good opportunity to make sure you’re on track and allow for adjustments of your treatment plan.
Ask about getting a yearly flu shot. People with asthma are more likely to experience complications from influenza.
Managing your asthma is an ongoing process. Yet by taking an active role in your health and working closely with your doctor, you can find ways to keep your symptoms under control and enjoy your life.