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Preventing Asthma Attacks
If you have a diagnosis of asthma, know that you have a great deal of control over the frequency and severity of your disease symptoms, including asthma attacks. Here are some tips for managing your symptoms and reducing the likelihood of an asthma attack occurring.
Consult with your health care provider for individualized information. Seek emergency assistance if you are experiencing serious difficulty breathing that does not respond promptly to home medication therapy.
Many new medications and treatments are available that help prevent asthma attacks. Ask your health care provider if any of the newer treatments may benefit you. The more that you know about your illness, and how to prevent flare-ups, the fewer asthma attacks and other symptoms you will likely have.
1. Develop an Attack Plan
Work with your health care provider to develop a written plan for treating asthma attacks. An effective treatment plan will clearly list steps to take at the first sign of an asthma attack to stop its progression. It will also help you to know when to take emergency medications and call for medical assistance. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack and its severity.
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2. Enlist Your Friends and Family
Share your asthma treatment plan with your loved ones. Keep it in a conspicuous location and have a current list of all of your medications, health history and allergies handy. Maintain a list of your doctors, your pharmacist and other health care providers, including their telephone numbers. Know how to reach emergency services if needed. Make sure family members know where you keep your rescue medications.
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3. Practice Breathing Exercises
Practice pursed lip breathing frequently – at least twice a day. That way if you have an asthma attack, you will know how to exhale slowly with your lips pursed as a means to reduce your symptoms. Ask your health care provider to recommend other breathing techniques that strengthen the lungs, expand your lung capacity and prevent secretions from accumulating in them.
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4. Use Your Peak Flow Meter Every Day
Once you know what your personal best peak flow level is, you will be able to evaluate your breathing and intervene quickly if necessary. You may even be able to identify subtle changes in your breathing before you can feel them. By knowing what your best reading is, you will be able to take appropriate measures before you experience difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, or other asthma symptoms.
Taking immediate steps to relieve symptoms may prevent the progression to a full-blown asthma attack. Consult with your health care provider for specific instructions. Generally, you will need to intervene if your peak flow reading is less than 80% of your personal best.
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5. Plan Ahead When Exercising
Many people who have asthma suffer from increased respiratory symptoms or asthma attacks while exercising. It is important that you engage in an exercise program, despite your asthma. Consider engaging in exercises that are less likely to precipitate an asthma attack. Yoga and swimming are excellent options. Ask your health care provider for exercise recommendations.
It may be helpful for you to use a bronchodilator prior to engaging in vigorous activities. Exercise indoors on days which are very hot or cold and avoid exercising outdoors when air pollution or pollen levels are elevated.
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6. Treat Asthma Holistically
While seeing your health care provider regularly and using medications is an essential part of an effective treatment plan for most people who have asthma, avoid relying on them as your only or primary means of avoiding asthma attacks.
Your lifestyle choices have huge impacts on the health of your lungs, immune system and general level of wellness. Pay attention to your physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental and relationship needs. All affect how well your asthma symptoms are controlled.
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7. Eat Well
Eat organic foods when you can. Consume simple, regular meals which are free from additives, preservatives, dyes, and pesticides. Include plenty of fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet. Consume at least one to two cups of berries each day. Avoid foods which increase mucus production, such as uncultured dairy products. Include foods in your diet which contain healthy omega fatty acids. These include flax, hempseed, salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
Pay attention to what you eat and identify any foods you are sensitive to. Consider implementing an elimination diet to help you identify foods which trigger respiratory symptoms.
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8. Keep Hydrated
Drink plenty of fluids so that mucus will not build up in your lungs. To know how much water you should be drinking, halve your weight in pounds and drink that number in ounces. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, drink at least 60 ounces of water daily. Consume extra fluids if you are engaging in vigorous exercise or if it is hot outside. Beverages containing caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating. Limit their intake.
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9. Don’t Smoke
You know this. You must take steps to stop smoking; even if you do not think that you will succeed. Take advantage of the wide array of smoking cessation programs available. Many public health departments offer free or low cost assistance.
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10. Avoid Exposure to Environmental Pollutants
Keep your home and workspace clean. Purchase the best air conditioning and heating system you can afford in order to reduce toxins in your environment. Be sure that your home is kept free of molds, mildew and dust and choose hard types of flooring rather than carpeting in your home. Ask co-workers to limit their use of perfumes, air fresheners, and other irritating substances. Use natural, unscented products to care for your home and body. You may also want to consider allergy testing.
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11. Consider Taking Natural Supplements
Natural vitamins, minerals, and supplements support the health of your immune system, improve your general level of wellness and strengthen your respiratory system. Include a multivitamin/ multimineral supplement labeled as a “stress formula.”
B vitamins are used up quickly when you suffer from asthma, so you may benefit from vitamin B12 injections if you suffer from frequent asthma attacks. Adequate amounts of vitamin B12 can reduce shortness of breath. Vitamin C can help reduce histamine levels which are elevated during asthma attacks and if exposure to allergens occurs. Vitamin E relieves swelling of your air passages. Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell in your body and helps to relieve asthma attacks.
While it is important to obtain most of your vitamins and minerals from your diet, supplementation with antioxidant rich carotenoids, flavonoids, and other natural plant compounds will help to prevent asthma symptoms and attacks. They help your body maintain healthy levels of vitamin C, reduce histamine release, and help your airways to stay open. Quercetin and extracts of grape seed or pine bark are excellent sources of antioxidants that benefit respiratory wellness and prevent inflammation.
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12. Add Herbs to Your Diet
Herbs decrease inflammation, prevent infection, thin mucus, reduce chest tightness and relieve spasmodic coughs. Thyme, mullein, elecampane, wild cherry bark and hyssop are particularly beneficial for asthma treatment.
If you suffer from anxiety, consider drinking herbal teas made with red clover, chamomile, calendula or linden. Licorice and marshmallow root provide rapid soothing relief to irritated air passages. Be sure to eat or take garlic capsules or tablets each day. Garlic will open up your air passages and help to prevent respiratory infections that precipitate asthma attacks.
Asthma is a controllable illnesses. By utilizing a wide array of treatments and implementing a healthy lifestyle, you will be able to prevent respiratory infections, and asthma attacks much of the time.