How to manage asthma effectively
Article date: 3 June 2014
If you're one of the 5.4 million people in the UK that have been diagnosed with asthma, you'll know that there's no cure for this long-term condition. Unfortunately, until scientists make that breakthrough, the best you can hope to do is manage your symptoms effectively.
For some, this is easier than others. According to research from the charity Asthma UK, 52 per cent - more than two million - of those struggling with the respiratory illness aren't aware they could be at risk of a potentially fatal attack. Sadly, 1,140 people in this country die as a result of complications every year.
So, what do you need to do to combat the danger and reduce your risk? Here are a few tips to help you manage asthma effectively.
Understand your symptoms
While not everyone has the same asthmatic symptoms, it's important to recognise when you need to take action to limit the damage to your respiratory system.
Generally, people who struggle with the condition experience the following:
-Shortness of breath
-A feeling of tightness in the chest
When these symptoms start to worsen, it's imperative you respond accordingly. Usually, this involves taking one or two puffs of your reliever and sitting down, all the while taking slow and steady breaths. The worst thing you can do is ignore your symptoms and carry on as normal.
Recognise the triggers
Often, your symptoms will worsen when you come into contact with so-called 'triggers', which exacerbate your asthma.
This happens as your airways become narrower in response to the trigger, tightening the surrounding muscles and increasing the production of mucus - making it harder to breathe.
Just like your symptoms, triggers can differ from person to person. However, there are common activities or environments that can make the condition worsen. These include:
-Air pollutants like excessive car fumes
While there are plenty more to list, they might not all be relevant to you and often it's a case of using common sense to recognise whether or not you're putting yourself at risk by exposing yourself to situations where you may come into contact with some of the above.
Keep on top of it
If you map out how you intend to manage your asthma, it can make it much easier to live with the condition.
Asthma UK offers an 'Asthma Action Plan', which guides patients through what they need to keep track of and how that information can be used to treat them.
Factors to take into consideration include what other medication you might be taking alongside your inhaler, how often you use your inhaler and what your course of action should be if you recognise your symptoms are getting worse.
Approximately 75 per cent of cases admitted to hospital for asthma are avoidable, while most deaths are also considered to have been preventable. Taking the attitude of "it's only asthma" is a risky line to walk, so it makes sense to be as organised as possible and ensure the condition has as little impact on your life as possible.