Asthma has two main causes:
1. When there’s a tightening of the muscles in the walls of the airways.
2. By inflammation and swelling of the airways.
Asthma is very common, and a growing condition each year. But even serious asthmatics can lead a normal life with the right treatment. Learn how to simplify your treatment and it will soon become second nature and easier to manage.
Spot and stop the triggers
Common triggers include: smoking, pollen, air pollution and stress. Figure out your most common triggers and learn how to avoid them – or manage them consistently. Research by the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) in the US found that one in five of the people who died from asthma were recorded as active smokers. So, if you smoke – stop! The NRAD also found that smokers “respond less to asthma treatment.”
Learn how to use your inhaler
The importance of correct technique cannot be overstated. According to the NRAD, only 49 percent of people reviewed knew the correct inhaler technique. Using your inhaler effectively will maximise the mount of medication that gets deep into your lungs. If you’re still not sure you’re using your inhaler correctly, check with your doctor. Use a spacer device (a small plastic mask that fits over your mouth). Make sure you know how often you should use the medication. Remember, there are athletes who suffer from asthma, but because they know how to use their inhaler (and manage their condition) they’re able to still perform on the field.
Exercise to minimise asthma
According to the Center for Advancing Health, exercise can help your condition. Former soccer player, David Beckham has asthma and that never stopped him on the field. A report in the Cochrane Review says that regular exercise can help reduce asthma symptoms by improving the functionality of your lungs so you get less breathless and build up stamina. Walking, swimming and jogging are good options.
A report in the European Respiratory Journal points out the benefits of breathing – the right way – to combat asthma. The exercises assist with manipulating the pattern of breathing, increasing strength and/or endurance of respiratory muscles, and increasing the flexibility of the thoracic cage, explains the report. “The breathing training techniques most frequently investigated have been physiotherapist-administered breathing exercises, as well as alternative techniques, like the Buteyko breathing method and yogic breathing. Of these, physiotherapy and Buteyko have the higher level of evidence and are now mentioned in several guidelines for asthma management.” Practise regular, deep breathing exercises.
Take your medication – always!
If your doctor has prescribed daily treatment (and he will if you have asthma symptoms more than twice a week or more than twice a month), stick to it. It's very important to take your inhaled corticosteroid daily as prescribed even if you feel better and have no asthma symptoms. The inhaled corticosteroid is the reason your symptoms are less severe and less frequent. Use your bronchodilator inhaler if and when needed. Rather use it too soon and more often than too late or not at all.
Take action when warnings signs appear and don't panic. You know what to do, so get on calmly and do it.