11 Ways to Manage Your Asthma No Matter the Location

If you have asthma, you know the feeling – chest tightening, coughing and the sensation that you can’t catch your breath. Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the lungs, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Managing your asthma can sometimes be a hassle, but there’s no reason to let it run your life. Below, Dr. Jeremy Katcher with Mercy Clinic Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shares 11 simple ways to take control of your asthma no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

The most effective way to prevent an asthma attack is to avoid any triggers in your home – like dust, tobacco smoke (or secondhand smoke), mold and pet dander. 

Living With Asthma

While it may be impossible to avoid every single trigger, there are a few things you can do to breathe a little easier.

  • Eliminate dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic organisms feed off of dust, flakes of skin from people and pets and moisture in the air. You can’t see them, but there could be tens of millions of dust mites living in your bedding. Wash your bedding weekly in hot water, along with any stuffed animals your child sleeps with. Using dust-proof pillow and mattress cases can also help reduce the number of dust mites. Be sure to check your ceiling fans for dust buildup as well. When you turn the fan on, that buildup can quickly disperse throughout your room.
  • Vacuum regularly. Vacuuming can help get rid of pet dander and other potential allergens. Try using a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Tile, wood and laminate flooring are easier to keep dust free, so depending on the severity of your asthma, you may want to consider getting rid of the carpet.
  • Ditch the yardwork. If you have a lawn to mow or leaves to rake, ask someone to help you. Grass, pollen and dust get stirred up when you’re working in the yard and can start an asthma attack.  
  • Quit smoking. Stopping smoking will dramatically improve your asthma symptoms. You’ll also decrease your risk for other diseases like heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

Working With Asthma

You’ll have less control of asthma triggers in your work environment than in your home. It’s important to identify common triggers found in the workplace, including mold, airborne dust, cleaning chemicals, pests (cockroaches, dust mites, mice) and even stress and try to minimize your exposure.

  • Keep it clean. Maintaining a clean work environment will help limit the opportunity for pests to move in. Take time to wipe down your desk every few weeks to eliminate dust buildup. Using safer cleaning products like soap and water or vinegar and water can also reduce the risk of an attack.
  • Report respiratory issues. If you’re experiencing breathing problems and you suspect the air in the office is unhealthy, let your supervisor know there may be a problem. Breakdowns in proper ventilation can cause asthma symptoms and potentially be dangerous.
  • Stop and smell the mildew. If your office space smells less than fresh, don’t just ignore it. Mold can be a serious issue – not just for people suffering from asthma. Talk to your supervisor and ask to have it checked out.

Traveling With Asthma

Asthma management can be a nuisance when you’re on the go. Keep these tips in mind when you’re out seeking adventure:

  • Don’t forget your rescue inhaler. Keep it on you at all times to avoid an unexpected detour to the emergency room. Albuterol is a medication commonly used in rescue inhalers that provides quick relief when your asthma symptoms flare up.
  • Pack appropriately. Take your asthma equipment (nebulizers, spacers, peak flow meters) with you.
  • Travel smartly. If you’re in a car, keep the windows rolled up during high pollen or pollution times. In a plane, avoid using airline pillows or blankets.
  • Call the hotel. Request a room that is non-smoking and pet-free. It may also help to bring your own pillow cover for the hotel pillow.

Talk to your Mercy allergist about managing your asthma symptoms and eliminating triggers. He or she can help create an asthma action plan based on your specific symptoms that tells you how to treat your asthma on a daily basis. It can also help you deal with sudden asthma attacks.

Written by Jeremy Katcher, MD

Jeremy Katcher, MD, is a fellowship-trained allergist at Mercy Clinic Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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