Living with Asthma
Ignorance, the absence of a diagnosis and insecurities can develop frustrations in some patients with asthma. Below we'll outline what can be done to live with the disease with great optimism.
Asthma is a disease for which there is still no cure. Treatments prescribed by specialists are aimed at reducing the severity of attacks and symptoms. Although it can go through long periods of remission, in reality it can always be activated by an external catalyst. Living with asthma is something each patient must learn to do in order to cope with the disease.
There are many things you can do to improve your quality of life after diagnosis. Knowing the basic fundamentals of the disease and identifying the possible triggers is key to its management in the short, medium, and long term. Today we show you some guidelines that you can include in your routine to deal with asthma better.
The importance of lifestyle in asthma
The first thing you need to know is that a change in lifestyle has been shown to have a positive impact on asthma control. These changes are more affordable, less invasive, and better tolerated by patients; this increases the chances that they will adhere to them in the long term.
They’re part of what is known as conservative asthma treatments and are adapted, in general, according to the possible causes or triggers that generate the attacks in each person. Living with asthma involves keeping your catalysts in check, so the following tips are helpful after a medical diagnosis.
Although it’s true that some asthma attacks can be caused by bouts of intense exercise, the evidence indicates a favorable relationship between symptom control and physical activity. Many patients are unaware of this relationship, and even feel prejudiced against exercising, believing that it will make the episodes worse.
Hundreds of high-impact athletes suffer from asthma, and this isn’t a limitation for the development of their professional activity when they receive treatment. Doing physical activity on a recurring basis is useful to strengthen the airways, improve aerobic capacity and strengthen the psychological spectrum of each patient.
Implement a balanced diet
Research suggests that a balanced diet can be beneficial in dealing with asthma. Although this is true, more evidence is still lacking in this regard. The unbalanced intake of antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids along with vitamin D deficiency is associated as the possible culprits of the increase in cases during the last decades.
Some patients report a worsening of symptoms after eating food from certain food groups. It’s the task of each one to identify possible catalysts and reduce their inclusion in the diet. A change in eating habits is also beneficial in other ways, such as weight control.
Keep a healthy weight
Although the mechanisms are still not entirely clear, we know that there’s a relationship between obesity and the development of asthma. There are many hypotheses, from the reduction in lung capacity due to it, to the hormonal changes it can produce.
Whatever the causes, maintaining a healthy weight is recommended to prevent mild asthma episodes from developing into moderate or severe conditions.
In order to do this, you can use a combination of regular exercise and diet, and also have the support of a specialist. Losing weight will also have a positive impact on other aspects of the patient’s life.
Avoid allergic agents
A relationship between allergy and asthma has been suggested. In fact, many asthma conditions are believed to be caused directly by allergic catalysts. In the event that the episodes are suspected of being caused by these, different modifications can be made in the habits to reduce their incidence. Among the most important ones, we can highlight the following:
- Keep rooms and workspaces free of dust
- Reduce the interaction that you have with pets (the hair of some pets can cause allergies)
- Get vaccinated during the most difficult seasons
- Wear a coat and suitable clothing when temperatures drop
- Avoid exposure to pollen during the spring
- Change the sheets weekly, clean the furniture, and implement other habits to minimize the presence of mites
If you take these four changes into account, you can live with asthma without major incidents. The doctor may recommend others as appropriate. Still, remember that these habits are not a substitute for drug treatment, especially if the attacks are moderate or severe.
Prevention of unexpected asthma attacks
Another very important factor for the quality of life of patients with asthma is prevention. In principle, this involves having the treatment prescribed by the doctor, being attentive to possible changes in symptoms and making annual consultations to control the progression of the disease (the latter if severe episodes are frequent).
Always have a kit with the medications that are part of your asthma treatment on hand. If you go on vacation, leave home for a couple of days, or move, don’t forget to take it with you. This is a must-have habit for living with asthma.
The use of the inhaler is particularly helpful to relieve symptoms during an attack. You never know when the next one will happen, so it doesn’t hurt for you to always carry a bronchodilator inhaler with you.
For convenience, you could have more than one and leave it in strategic places: your parents’ house, the backpack you use the most, your work desk and more.
Lastly, keep track of the attacks you experience during the month. If you notice an alteration in the frequency, don’t hesitate to consult your specialist. It doesn’t matter if these are mild and short, they can be an indicator that the treatment isn’t working.
Tips for asthmatic patients
Research highlights the importance of patients knowing about their own disease in order to maintain positive prospects for the future. Evidence suggests that many people believe that seizures can’t be controlled, even with personalized treatment.
We know that living with asthma can lead to negative psychosocial experiences. Patients tend to be self-conscious when performing certain activities due to the fear of having an attack, which, in turn, can cause anxiety, seclusion, fear, or stress. Psychological support can be useful to cope with these consequences.
According to some studies, it’s relatively common for people to develop self-control strategies to avoid or mitigate symptoms of the disease. Some turn to breathing exercises, practice yoga, attend acupuncture therapy, massage or meditation, among other things.
If some of these activities are positive for you, then you can include them as a complement, not a substitute, for the main treatment. Remember that asthma has many different drug treatments. If you don’t receive the benefits you expect from one of them, then you can always opt for another one under the supervision of your specialist.