In the United States millions of people have asthma, but that doesn’t stop them from living their lives every day. Here are five of my favorite tips that you may want to incorporate into your routine so that you’ll have a healthier year ahead.
With your doctor’s approval you can still exercise when you have asthma. Exercise has many benefits, including improving the strength of your lungs and heart. Better lung function has obvious advantages for people who have asthma, and a stronger heart delivers nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body.
Before starting any new exercise program, talk to your doctor, and be sure to have a rescue inhaler handy when you are working out.
In some instances, as with our daughters, we pre-medicate with albuterol to prevent asthma attacks caused by exercise. If you have allergies that trigger your asthma you may want to find ways to exercise indoors on high pollen days. One of our faves is swimming indoors.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water regularly may seem like a simple thing to remember, but the role of hydration in the body can’t be downplayed. Not only does it help many other organs but it also keeps the mucous membranes in the lungs thinned out. This prevents the lungs from working extra hard.
3. Avoid smoke
If you have asthma avoiding cigarette smoke is essential to keeping your lungs healthy. But it’s not just cigarette smoke that is dangerous to people with asthma. Barbecues, fireplaces, and bonfires can all pose a threat. Be sure to avoid smoke when possible and always have a rescue inhaler handy for an unexpected exposure.
4. Keep up with doctor appointments, even when you’re well
It’s tempting to skip a doctor’s appointment if you’re feeling fine. But if you have asthma those appointments can be essential to keeping your lungs healthy. Your doctor may want to keep an eye on your pulmonary function testing to make sure small changes don’t add up to big ones and cause your asthma to get out of control.
5. Take your medications
Asthma control medications are generally used daily to prevent asthma attacks. Make sure you keep up with your medication schedule, refill your prescription before you run out, and avoid skipping doses. If you are having trouble paying for your prescriptions speak with your doctor right away. He or she may be able to provide a cheaper alternative. Still having trouble paying for your asthma meds? Contact the manufacturer; it may have coupon cards or prescription programs available.
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Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.