When you have a chronic disease like asthma, daily coping can be a challenge at times. But it doesn't have to be that way! Here are some tips for making the best of your life, even with asthma.
1. Become an asthma expert. The best way to cope with anything -- and asthma is no exception -- is to learn evrything you can about it. The more you know about asthma, the easier it'll be for you to understand what's happening to your body and why. Of course, most of aren't shy these days about doing our research on the Internet; after all, that's why you're here, isn't it? But this is also an opportunity to ask questions of your doctor or doctor's nurse. If none of the healthcare professionals in the office (not the technicians) will make time to answer your questions, it might be time to look for a new doctor. If you DO do research on the Web, just be sure to stick with reliable heath information sites like this one.
2. Take ownership for your asthma care. That's right... you! Of course, to do this, you do need to team up with your doctor, team being the operative word. Don't abdicate all decisions to your doctor. While your doctor is certainly the medical/asthma expert; you are the "you" expert. In other words, you know best how asthma, and asthma treatment, affects you. So don't be afraid to speak up for yourself. Make all your medical decisions join decisions.
3. Build an asthma management team. While you and your doctor head up that team, it's good to have other experts on the team too. You might want to consult an asthma expert once in a while. Or, maybe a nurse is the best person to help you stop smoking or start exercising. A nutritionist is the best resource for learning to eat healthy and lose weight. And so on.
4. Become accountable for tracking your own asthma control. Use your peak flow monitor every day. Keep a symptom diary. This kind of home monitoring lets you spot warning signs that asthma control is slipping before they turn into real trouble.
5. Follow your treatment plan carefully. The good news is that asthma can be controlled so that it doesn't have to interfere that much with your life. The not as fun news is that asthma control usually requires taking medicine, every single day for the rest of your life. Sometimes twice a day. It's worth it, though. Taking your medicine regularly, as prescribed, can make a huge difference in your life.
6. Make sure your care is coordinated. Asthma sometimes brings along related conditions such as allergies and acid reflux disease (GERD). You could have a specialist for each condition. Make sure your doctors know what each other are doing and prescribing, so that your care stays in sync.
7. Make changes in your environment so it is more asthma-friendly. Asthma symptoms are triggered by things in your environment, from pollen to mold to dust to animals to smoke and more. Work to figure out what sets off your asthma symptoms and then do your best to eliminate those things from your home, office and school settings.
8. Invest in a healthy lifestyle. Every person on earth will benefit from adopting healthier lifestyle habits. People with asthma are no exception. Learning to eat healthy, getting more active, stopping smoking, getting the sleep you need, losing weight if you need to and managing your stress are all lifestyle changes that can greatly benefit you in terms of asthma control. The healthier you are, the better able you'll be to cope with asthma.
9. Reach out to others for the support you need to get through the day. You don't have to go it alone. It's just not necessary. Living with chronic asthma can lead to feelings of uncertainty, frustration, anger and depression at times, and these feelings can affect not only you, but also your family and friends. So, include them in your care and in your efforts toward a healthier lifestyle. These changes will benefit everyone. If you're having trouble coping with asthma, talking to others who know what you're going through can be reassuring. Look for an asthma or chronic disease support group in your area or online. (We have a great community here at HealthCentral!)
10. Adopt a problem-solving attitude and control your negative thoughts. See your condition as a challenge to be met, not as a problem that can't be solved. Stress and anxiety are some of the most potent asthma triggers. Minimize your stress when things get to be too much, by using relaxation and meditation to fully focus on being in the present. Relaxation techniques may also help prevent asthma attacks.
Published On: February 28, 2009