Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Your Loved One With Asthma

Health Professional

Respire asthma inhaler caseStill looking for gift ideas for your family member or friend who has asthma? Here are some ideas to help you out...

1.** Quit smoking.** If you currently smoke, quitting smoking can be a dual gift. It will certainly make you healthier. But it will also help out all those around you by protecting them from secondhand smoke inhalation, especially if they have asthma. Secondhand smoke is a powerful asthma trigger and can also raise risk for developing asthma in babies and children. Giving this gift of yourself and a smoke-free holiday will be much appreciated!

2.** Membership in a health club or weight loss program.** This is only good if you know the person is ready to lose weight and you can afford it. It's important to know though that losing weight is one of the best gifts a person with asthma can give themselves, as it will help greatly with asthma control. If you can't afford to give a gift like this, then think about offering to be the main support person for your friend as s/he works on losing weight. Be a workout buddy, help with planning low-fat, low-calorie healthy meals, and so on.

3.** A "puffer" pouch or case.** People with asthma usually have to keep an asthma inhaler with them at all times, in case of an asthma attack. For men or women who don't use a purse, the inhaler, or "puffer" as some call it, can be a bulky addition to a pocket or difficult to carry along when running, etc. And even if you carry your inhaler in a purse or belt pack, it can get dirty, become dislodged from the device or lose its cap. So having a small case that it fits in can be a great gift! And this is a great gift for a teen, who may be embarrassed to carry an inhaler. Trick one out with crystals or glow in the dark plastic and you'll have a winner. One choice is the Respire brand case pictured above, a metal case that fastens magnetically, which looks stylish too. Or, I found a canvas case with a carabiner that clips onto my belt loop or purse handle. Others have belt clips. Even some cell phone cases might work. Just "Google" the term "inhaler case" and you'll see lots of options. Even Walgreens sells one!

4.** Battery-operated candles.** Most people like candles, especially at the holidays or when trying to set a relaxing or romantic mood. But the smoke from candles, as well as the fragrance, can be irritating to inflamed airways in people who have asthma. Battery-operated candles may come with scent, but they can be used with or without the fragrance pack. I have one of these, and I love it!

5.** Maid service.** Keeping your home as dust-free as possible is a great way to keep the common asthma trigger of dust mites down to a minimum. But getting there -- in other words, doing the cleaning -- can stir up dust and make asthma symptoms worse. So, having someone else come in a do the cleaning can really help out a person with asthma, in both attaining and keeping a clean house. If you can't afford to give maid service, then offer to do the cleaning yourself, at least occasionally. Your efforts will go even farther if you use dust-mite cleaning products and a vacuum with a HEPA filter to get rid of allergens.

6.** Allergen-free pillow or mattress covers.** The worst place for dust mites, the most common asthma trigger, is the bedroom. The numbers of dust mites in mattresses, pillows and bedding are 2 to 3 times the number found elsewhere in the home. So any efforts to control dust mites there will pay immense benefits. There are special covers for pillows to keeep allergens out as much as possible. You can also purchase "hypoallergenic" pillows that are designed to keep allergens from getting into the pillow. Keep in mind, however, that hypoallergenic is a marketing term, not a medical one. A hypoallergenic pillow can still attract and carry allergens and trigger allergies.

7. Asthma-friendly products. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America sponsors an asthma-friendly certification that will tell you if a product has been scientifically tested and proven to be more suitable for people with asthma and related allergic sensitivities. Find asthma-friendly toys for kids with asthma there. This is also a good place to look for those allergy and and asthma friendly pillows.

8. Medic Alert jewelry. Medic Alert makes bracelets, necklaces and even watches with medical alert information on them. If your loved one with asthma is prone to anaphylaxis, stinging insect allergy, or food allergies, this gift could save their life.

9. Books about asthma. There are many great books about living with asthma available at your local bookstore or online. I own _Asthma for Dummies _, and it's a great practical reference book, but it's not your only choice. There are even picture/story books for young children to help them learn about asthma and feel less "different."

10. Air cleaner/purifier. The jury is still out on the value of an air purifier for asthma, but many believe that it will reduce the amount of airborne allergens in your environment, so this may be a gift you want to consider for the person with asthma. If you get one, though, go for a non-ionic type, as the ionic type may product the irritant ozone, which is not good for asthmatics or anyone else.

So, there you have it -- 10 creative gift ideas for people with asthma this holiday season. Happy Holidays!