Asthma is a lung disease that causes your airways to become narrow, swollen, and blocked by excess mucus, making it difficult to breathe. It affects more than 25 million people in the United States.
During normal breathing, the muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air flow easily back and forth to your lungs. During an asthma attack, the linings of your airways become swollen, the muscles constrict, and your body creates more mucus, clogging your airways.
The effect of all these things is that your airways become tighter, making it difficult to breathe. You can begin wheezing and coughing and struggling to move air into your lungs.
For people who have asthma, learning to prevent attacks is one of the best ways to manage the disease. Dr. Sherwin Hariri and our team at Beverly Hills Allergy in Beverly Hills and Glendale, California, specialize in managing asthma. Here are three precautions we recommend to prevent an asthma attack.
Identify and avoid triggers
Certain triggers in your environment or lifestyle may be likely to set off the avalanche of symptoms that make up an asthma attack. If you’re struggling to breathe, this can be very scary. The best way to avoid this is to determine what your triggers are and then stay away from them as much as possible.
If you’re just starting this process, every time you have an asthma attack, take a few minutes afterward to write down where you were and what you were doing during the day or so before your attack. Common triggers include smoke, dust mites, exercise, cold, dry air, and more, so ask questions like:
- Was I exercising outside?
- Was I cleaning or making my bed?
- Was I around cigarette smoke or a campfire?
- Am I getting a cold?
You should then discuss this list with your doctor to identify your common triggers and make plans to avoid them. For instance, if cold air is a trigger, exercise inside on days when it’s cold and dry outside.
Manage your medicine
If you have asthma, you’re likely taking at least a couple of medications to help control it. Not taking your medicine as prescribed can make you more susceptible to an attack. If you’re on a daily medication, make sure you take it every day, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
You also probably have an inhaler with albuterol that can help control symptoms if you feel an attack coming on. Talk with your doctor to ensure you know how to use your inhaler properly as well as the correct dosage and times to use your inhaler.
If your doctor doesn’t bring it up, ask for a spacer to attach to your inhaler — this makes the inhaler easier to use and helps the medicine reach your lungs. Keep your inhaler with you at all times in case you feel the warning signs of an attack.
Treat your allergies
If your doctor finds you’re allergic to certain substances, these could trigger your asthma as well. Develop a plan with your doctor to avoid the allergens and be treated for your allergies. Avoiding the allergens can include steps like washing your pillow in hot water every week (to kill dust mites), and staying indoors during times of high pollen count.
Allergy treatment can also involve medication, including immunotherapy (allergy shots) to help your body adjust to the effects of the allergens.
If you need to get your asthma symptoms under control, our team at Beverly Hills Allergy would be honored to help. Set up an appointment at our office nearest you today by phone or book online, so we can help you breathe easier!