Living With Asthma
Even though asthma isn’t always in flare, you need to stick to a healthy daily routine to keep symptoms from creeping into your daily life. Although inhaled steroids and bronchodilators play an important role, all your other choices add up to inflame, maintain, or reduce your symptoms. In turn, it’s worth examining your diet, activity level, hobbies, and environment to uncover any potential problems.
First and foremost, you need to know your triggers and learn to stay away from them. Not surprisingly, tobacco smoke is regarded as the worst irritant for asthma, and so it has no place in your work or home life. Aside from avoiding smoke, there are other steps to a cleaner living space that should reduce your discomfort and help you avoid unpleasant attacks.
Give Your Bedroom a Facelift
You spend about a third of your life sleeping, so be sure your sleep space is as clean and fresh as your other living spaces. You may not need a full renovation, just a few cleaver adjustments in the right places:
You probably clean your bedding regularly, but how clean does it really get? Since water needs to be at least 130 °F to kill dust mites, experts suggest washing your sheets and pillow cases at least once a week on your washer’s hottest setting.
It’s a good idea to cover your pillows and mattress in dust-proof zippered covers to protect the fabric from mites. If your bedroom is carpeted, you also need to be diligent about vacuuming, but you might want to have someone do it for you: a vacuum can kick up dirt, dust, and allergens into the air, so it’s best to wait 15 or 20 minutes before going into a freshly vacuumed space.
Moisture is mold’s best friend, so don’t let things get damp. Bring in a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 60%, and use air conditioning on particularly hot and humid days. Remember to empty the container of the dehumidifier often and wipe it clean, to keep mildew at bay.
Since really dry air can worsen asthma symptoms, be careful not to suck all the humidity out of the room. If air conditioning is drying out the air too much, a standing fan might be a safer bet for a more comfortable sleep that won’t make your asthma worse at night.
Keep It Simple
Clutter collects dust in the blink of an eye, so clear your dressers, night table, and any other surfaces of knickknacks and unnecessary accessories. Decorative pillows look nice, but they’re not worth the irritants. Likewise, scented candles, diffusers and potpourri are nearly impossible to keep dust-free, plus the scents can trigger asthma symptoms.
Increasing your level of activity can be uncomfortable when your asthma symptoms are bothering you, but regular exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen your lungs for long-term improvement in your breathing.
The more weight you carry, the more pressure you’re putting on your ribcage and lungs, and the harder it is to breathe deeply. In fact, asthmatics who are overweight tend to struggle with asthma control, since their medications don’t work as well as they should. If you can reach and maintain a healthy weight, you will almost certainly see an improvement in your breathing. Exercise is an important step in the right direction.
Less Stress, More Happiness
Studies show that those who work out regularly tend to have more positive attitudes and lower stress levels than inactive people. Since stress and anxiety can manifest in physical ways – like tightness in the chest wall and hyperventilation — it’s in your best interest to do what you can to reduce your daily stress. Aerobic exercise is important, but try to incorporate some yoga and meditation into your exercise regime, for added relaxation.
Next page: diet changes to make for better living with asthma.