So you're tired of asthma controlling your life. With the coming of the New Year, there's no better time than right now to get your asthma under control. To help you with this task, here is a top 10 list of things you must do this year.
1. Be honest with yourself: There's an old saying that the first step to getting help is to admit you have a problem in the first place. Since asthma has a tendency to go into hiding for months and even years, it's easy to forget you have it. It's time you admit you have asthma, and that you never again want it to control you.
2. Be honest with your doctor: Is your asthma worse than you've been letting on to your doctor? Do you use your inhaler more often than he recommends? Is your asthma causing you grief right now? Well, there's no better time than the present to call your gallant asthma doctor and fess up.
3. Create an asthma action plan: This is a plan that will help you know what to do in case your asthma flares up. I wrote about how to create such a plan here.
4. Make some Lifestyle changes: Like compliance, this is something you must work on every day this year. If you smoke, you must quit. If you hang out in smoky bars, it's time to stop. If you spend a lot of time at your best friend's cabin in the woods and that place triggers your asthma, then you best avoid that too. It's hard to make changes in your life, but it's very important to good asthma control.
5. Be compliant with your medicines: It is a fallacy that you can take your inhaled steroids only when you are sick and expect them to make you better. The truth is, it takes 2-3 weeks for preventative medicines like Advair, Symbicort and Singulair to get in your system. Therefore, for the best asthma control, you must make a commitment to compliance. You'll also need to work with your doctor on finding which asthma meds work best for you, which you can read more about here.
6. You must exercise: It is true that exercise strengthens your heart and your lungs. All asthmatics, no matter how bad your asthma is, must get off the couch and exercise. This is one of the most important things you can do to get your asthma under control. If you're not known to exercise, this is a lifestyle change you must make. I wrote about the benefits of exercise in this post and this post.
7. You must eat healthy: I think there have been enough studies linking being overweight with worsening asthma that we should take this seriously. As our nutrition expert Heather Reese explains in this post, "It has been suggested that carrying extra weight can put added pressure on the lungs, which leads to an asthma-like response. However, some experts challenge the obesity/asthma link, asserting that obese people do not actually develop asthma; rather they are just short of breath from carrying extra weight. They do agree that losing weight can alleviate asthma symptoms in known asthmatics." So in 2010 join me in eating better, losing weight, and breathing better.