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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn your asthma triggers: You must work with your doctor on learning what triggers your asthma, and then find a way to avoid those triggers. Medicines can help you avoid some triggers, like dust mites. Yet, more than likely, you’ll need to make changes in your home, such as putting covers over your pillows and mattresses or getting rid of carpet. However, there are some asthma triggers you might have to avoid altogether. Read more by clicking here.
Learn your asthma signs and symptoms: Every asthmatic has signs and symptoms of asthma that are unique to him or her. For instance, my chin gets itchy and my chest gets tight. If you can spot these signs early enough, you can use your asthma action plan to nip the attack in the bud. Learn more about asthma signs and symptoms and how to use them to your benefit by clicking here.
Increase your asthma wisdom: Obviously you’re already doing this by hanging
out here. Check out our adult and child asthma guides. Read what other asthmatics like you and me have to say, and share your own asthma stories and wisdom. Ask and answer asthma related questions. Grab a good like, “Asthma for Dummies.”
Another neat way to increase your asthma wisdom is to follow blogs of fellow asthmatics like you and me. By doing this, you’ll also learn that you are not alone in many of the things you experience because you have asthma.
Besides our own, some of my favorite asthma blogs are (for more click here):
- Asthma Mom
- Oh yeah? Well I inhale steroids. Beat that…
- hold your breath to breathe
- Coughs and Sneezes, Itches and Wheezes
- Life With These Lungs
- From Either Side of the Gurney
- Respiratory therapy cave (my own plug)
So what do you think? Think you can handle it? I think you can. In fact, based on my own experience doing all of the above, I know you can do it. Besides, it’ll be fun, and once your asthma is controlled, you’ll have a whole new world open to you. You’ll see.
It’ll be fun hanging out with you the rest of 2010. Happy New Year! Good luck!
A Registered Respiratory Therapist and asthmatic