Asthma is a long-term condition, with symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and breathlessness. But the good news is that, with a little bit of forward planning, it's possible to maintain a good quality of life without having to worry about being caught out by an asthma attack. Here are six essential habits that anyone with asthma should stick to.
Whether it's in your pocket, bag or desk at work, it's essential to have a (working) inhaler located nearby at all times. You never know what will trigger an attack, be it pollen, dust, cigarette smoke or just a strong smell of perfume - so always have your treatment to hand in case of emergency. It's also a good idea to create an asthma action plan with your doctor, so you know exactly what treatment you need, which triggers to avoid and how to cope with attacks.
The flu vaccination can help protect you from potentially serious health complications. The flu virus can exacerbate asthma symptoms, making breathing more difficult, causing inflammation and narrowing the airways. Those with asthma are considered to be an 'at risk' group, and are therefore eligible for the jab. The best time to be vaccinated is the autumn, and it's important to have the jab every year, as the viruses that cause flu change regularly.
The symptoms of asthma can become worse if you have a cold, so it's wise to look after yourself more during this time. Make sure to get plenty of rest, eat healthy and nutritious food, drink plenty of fluids and keep a close eye on your asthma symptoms as they may change. If symptoms become worse, particularly if they interfere with your daily activities or keep you up at night, make sure you contact a health professional for advice.
Having asthma means your sense of smell may be more sensitive than most. Any strong odours or fragrances that irritate the nostril lining can be unpleasant and trigger asthma symptoms. For their own peace of mind then, many people with asthma choose to avoid the perfume counter in Boots!
When your ability to breath is restricted, you know this could be the start of an asthma attack. Therefore it stands to reason that anyone with asthma is more mindful of their breathing techniques than most, and knows how important it is to breathe deeply from the diaphragm, rather than shallowly from the chest as many people do. The more aware you are of how you breath, the more likely you will notice a change in symptoms in time to act.
Any physical activity that requires a significant amount of exertion can leave you gasping for air and, if you have asthma, you're even more aware that this is the risk you take. If you have severe asthma, take time to celebrate even the little things that other people take for granted, such as walking up a flight of stairs without wheezing – even this can feel like a small victory!