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Hints & tips when living with asthma

Daily considerations

The good news is there is a lot you can do to help avoid making your asthma worse. Whilst it might be frustrating and difficult, it is really important that you try to avoid things that could cause you to have an asthma attack.

Exercise

  • If you have ever had symptoms when you’ve been exposed to the cold, consider avoiding exercising outside on cold and frosty days, as the cold is normally a common trigger32
  • Make sure you breathe through your nose33
  • Before starting exercise, make sure you warm-up first33
  • If running is a problem, try swimming as this may cause less drying of your airways33
  • Avoid exercising on days with high pollen counts33
  • Keep fit, as this will allow you to keep your asthma under control33

Please note that exercise should not all together be avoided if you have asthma, as the long terms health benefits are well documented. If you have concerns about undertaking exercise because of your asthma, visit your doctor or nurse.

Stress

 

  • Identify the major stress factors in your life24
  • Learn to change your thought patterns that produce stress24
  • Try and avoid situations that trigger stress for you24

 

Non-compliance

Not using your medicine properly, or as prescribed, can cause your symptoms to get worse. There may be a number of reasons that you don’t want to use your medicine, which may include:

  • Difficulty using your inhaler35
  • Inconvenience35
  • Embarrassment35
  • Fear of side effects35
  • Denial35
  • Belief that medication is ineffective35

If you are worried about your medicine, please do visit your doctor and talk honestly about the problems you are experiencing. Your doctor will then be able to provide the right advice for you.

 

Avoiding allergens

You should also do what you can to avoid inhaling certain allergens that you know cause your asthma to worsen when you’re outside36. Remember, it’s also important to talk to your doctor about getting tested to find out if your asthma is triggered by allergens, and which ones so that you know what to avoid. Some useful tips include:

Pollen

Pollen

  • When pollen counts are high, like during spring and summer, stay inside as much as possible37
  • Keep the windows closed. If it's hot, use an air conditioner with a clean air filter38
  • Some allergens can be more seasonal than others – some pollen, such as grass pollen may only be around during the spring or summer months

Dust mites

  • Dust mites live in fabrics and carpets but they are microscopic, so you can't see them39
  • Try to put your pillows and mattresses in allergen proof covers40
  • Try to wash your sheets and bedding once a week in very hot water40
  • If your child has asthma, avoid stuffed toys that can’t be washed for the same reasons40
humidity

Indoor humidity

If moisture is a problem in your home, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner as this will reduce the growth of mould, cockroaches and house dust mites, which can cause flare ups41

Pet allergies Pet allergies

Pet allergies

  • If you have pets, it is important to let your doctor know as he or she may wish to arrange an allergy skin test to determine if you are allergic to them42
  • Don’t let your pets into the bedroom or on the sofa
  • Washing your pet regularly will not make much of a difference to the amount of their allergen that you inhale – and may even be bad for your pet’s skin
  • If the above steps don’t work, you may unfortunately need to consider re-homing your pet
cleanness

Kitchen and bathroom

Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and dry to prevent mould growth and cockroaches

gardening and allergy gardening and allergy

Gardening

Gardening can stir up pollens and mould so try to wear a filter mask, which will help reduce the number of allergens you inhale

How often should I go and see my doctor? How often should I go and see my doctor? Info

If you are newly diagnosed with asthma, your doctor or nurse may want to see you frequently to monitor your symptoms and asthma treatment33. After that, depending on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, you may need to go back less frequently.

You should aim to follow the schedule and advice your doctor gives you.

What should I do when I’m having an asthma attack and how do I know I’m having one? What should I do when I’m having an asthma attack and how do I know I’m having one? Info

An asthma attack is a worsening of your symptoms caused by the tightening of the muscles around your airways. It might take about 6 to 48 hours to become serious, or it may occur more suddenly34.

Will my asthma get worse if I have a cold? Will my asthma get worse if I have a cold? Info

If you have asthma, catching a cold may make your symptoms worse36,37. Keep track of your asthma symptoms and if they appear to be getting worse because of your cold, you should visit your doctor36.

What happens to my asthma when I’m pregnant? What happens to my asthma when I’m pregnant? Info

During pregnancy, your asthma symptoms may change – they may worsen, remain unchanged or even improve38.

What if I have occupational asthma? What if I have occupational asthma? Info

Occupational asthma doesn't mean you have to leave your job. You can manage occupational asthma by avoiding exposure to the substance causing the problem1,40. Follow your doctors advice and talk to your employers about what steps you can take to relieve your asthma symptoms at work which may include:

  •  Can you relocate to another part of the business?41
  •  Can your employer isolate the problem by installing extractor fans?41
  •  Is there other personal protective equipment available?41

 

My baby has asthma, what should I do? My baby has asthma, what should I do? Info

The diagnosis of asthma in babies and early childhood can be difficult. Many children who experience symptoms such as wheezing early in life, grow up to overcome them10.


If diagnosed, asthma in babies is often a reaction to an allergen, such as dust mites, pollen, mould or pet saliva, skin or urine (see Daily considerations for more). To be certain, your doctor may treat your baby with asthma medication in the short term to see if this improves symptoms.


Using inhalers with babies can be a challenging and anxious experience42. If you are finding it difficult to use a spacer (a plastic or metal container that makes inhalers easier to use) and mask with the inhaler, you may wish to try the following:

  • Play with the spacer before you need to use it, so that your baby gets used to the feel of it42
  • Remember to be positive and smile, as your baby will know if you are at unease42
  • Try to avoid giving inhalers to your baby if they are crying as they won't get much of the medication42


Always follow your doctor's advice when using an inhaler with your baby.

If I'm fasting, will my asthma be affected? If I'm fasting, will my asthma be affected? Info

There is little evidence to suggest that fasting throughout parts of the day or cutting out certain Foods, as part of a planned fast (e.g. Ramadan) will worsen your asthma symptoms, except for when you change the way you manage or control your asthma43.


It is advised that you consult your doctor or nurse before embarking on a planned fast.