Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the United States. There are plenty of medications on the market that can help relieve symptoms after an asthma attack.
However, avoiding triggers is key in managing asthma.
Triggers irritate sensitive airways, making it hard to breathe. There are plenty of natural ways to help you breathe better. The first is identifying common triggers, which includes allergens, irritants, other health problems, exercise, medicines, and stress.
- Dust. Dust is the most common year-round allergen. Dust mites are found in mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture. They live best in warm, humid conditions. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms caused by dust mites is to limit your exposure. Pay special attention to the bedroom where you spend a lot of your time. Install dust mite covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows.
- Pollens. If you are allergic to pollen, keep all car and house windows closed and use air conditioning during pollen season. If you are outdoors, shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes when you go inside.
- Pets. Pets that have fur or feathers cause allergies for many people. Some people with pets are not able to keep them because of their allergies. If you do have pets, wash your hands after petting them. Be sure to keep them off your bed and out of your bedroom. Also, have someone brush and bathe your pet regularly.
- Mold and mildew. These can trigger asthma. When outside, avoid damp and shady areas. Use exhaust fans when cooking or bathing. Keep indoor humidity below 45%. Also, clean your dehumidifier regularly.
Even though exercise is a common asthma trigger, you should not stop exercising unless directed by your physician. Exercise is good for your health and your lungs. Activities such as swimming, golf, and yoga are good choices for persons with asthma. Always warm-up before exercise and cool down at the end of exercise.
If you smoke, quit. When a person inhales tobacco smoke, irritating substances settle in the moist lining of the airways. These substances can cause an asthma attack. Secondhand smoke is also a common asthma attack trigger. Also, avoid strong perfumes, cleaning products, fresh paint, and other strong odors.
Some medicines can worsen asthma symptoms. These medicines include aspirin, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and beta-blockers used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your asthma history and use of these medicines.
Emotional stress can trigger asthma symptoms. There are ways to learn how to better manage your emotions. Meditation practice can help you learn breathing techniques to reduce your stress on the spot. The slow, deep breathing method used during mediation can cause relaxation and reduce hyperventilation.
Other Asthma Relief tips:
- Use a HEPA air filter for the bedroom.
- Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is really high (pollen counts usually peak in the mornings).
- Wash your bedding and rugs in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) to eliminate dust mites and other allergens.
- Vacuum twice a week. Wear a mask because vacuuming can kick up pollen, mold, and dust that were trapped in your carpet.
- Also wear a mask when you mow your lawn to keep grass pollen out of your nose.
- Wash your car once a week.
Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A., attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she completed her family medicine residency, before joining the Touro Infirmary Health System. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine Diplomate. Dr. Maxwell chose family medicine because she gets to see patients of all ages and the whole family.