Living with Asthma

If you’ve been diagnosed with Asthma you will have many questions, probably particularly how it will affect your daily life.

Asthma cannot be cured and the triggers that cause the symptoms cannot always be avoided however it is also important to remember that they are many positive role models who have gone on to achieve great things even though they have asthma (Paula Radcliffe, David Beckham and Stephen Fry to name but a few!)

Therefore it is important that if you have been given regular  preventive and reliever therapy (usually in the form of inhalers, or tablets) to ensure you take them carefully as instructed by your Doctor.  Make sure to use the preventive treatment every day even if you're feeling well because using safe, regular medications is the best way of achieving a normal life.

Help yourself to stay well by trying to discover your asthma triggers and then avoiding them if possible. Everyone’s asthma triggers are different but some of the main causes are:

Smoking:   Clearly if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you smoke then this is the most obvious and immediate action to be taken. STOP!  Inhaling smoke into  your lungs acts as an irritant and can trigger asthma attacks, It also makes inhaled medicine less effective. As a result, you're likely to need to take bigger doses of inhaled steroid medication.

By continuing to smoke if you have asthma you are increasing your chances of developing much more serious conditions such as COPD or Bronchitis. With asthma your lungs are already inflamed and cigarette smoke can have a much more powerful effect.

Second hand smoke is also an airborne irritant therefore it is  important to stay in a smoke free environment.

Exercise

Although often suffers complain that exercise can trigger an asthma attack, it shouldn't happen if you have appropriate treatment, such as inhalers and using them regularly as prescribed.

A lot of top sports men and women have asthma but by managing their condition can compete at the very highest levels. Taking regular exercise is the healthy thing to do.

If you find that exercise gives you troublesome asthma symptoms, discuss this with your doctor. You may need more preventive asthma treatments. Sometimes, using your reliever inhaler 20 minutes before planned exercise helps to reduce subsequent symptoms.

Cold weather

Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath. Be especially careful in winter. Stay indoors on very cold, windy days. If you go out, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. Be extra careful about taking your regular medications. Keep rescue inhalers close by and in a warm place.

Diet

Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and few additives may help with asthma in the long term. Also as obesity has an adverse impact on asthma it is important to help maintain a healthy weight.

 Vaccinations

If your treatment is to  take inhaled or oral steroids to control your asthma, then to  reduce your chances of a serious respiratory illness you need flu and pneumonia vaccinations.

Painkillers

If you have asthma and you regularly take aspirin or other painkillers, there's a very small chance that you'll have a bad reaction to the medication. If you do consult with your GP at once. It is also important to discuss the risks of taking any additional painkillers at your regular asthma review sessions.

Action plan

BY having an asthma action plan you are four times less likely to have an attack that requires emergency hospital treatment. Discuss and draw up your plan  with your GP or asthma nurse. It will help you to know what medicines to take and when, how to recognise when your asthma symptoms change and what to do when this happens.

As well as taking your regular asthma medication, find out what else you can do to reduce your symptoms and your risk of having an asthma attack.

Summary

Take control of your condition, have regular reviews with your GP or asthma nurse discuss with them your medication and changes to you dosage and any additional or worsening of your symptoms.  Get educated about the condition and make sure you understand asthma and that you have a plan in place if things change.