Have you been diagnosed with asthma? Have you been worrying about ways to care for an asthma patient at home? Here’s all you need to know about asthma along with tips to manage it at home.
What is Asthma?
Asthma or Bronchial Asthma, also known as reactive airway disease, is a chronic disease of the airways (breathing tubes that carry air into lungs). As a reaction to certain triggers, the airways get inflamed, become narrow, or fill up with mucus secretions, causing difficulty in breathing.
- Allergies: There is a very strong connection between asthma and allergies, which ranges from dust mites to food allergies.
- Heartburn: When there is severe reflux of stomach acids into the oesophagus, some of it may pass into the throat or airways, triggering an inflammatory response from the airways.
- Exercise: Vigorous aerobic exercise can trigger an asthma attack within the first 15 minutes.
- Drug-induced attack: Certain medicines like non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs are also potential candidates for causing asthma.
- Smoking: Smokers are highly prone to asthma attacks.
- Respiratory tract infections: From allergic colds, sinusitis and bronchitis, any infection can trigger an asthma attack.
- Stress: Strong emotional condition can also trigger an attack in asthma patients.
- Persistent cough, which gets worse at night or after exercise.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- A feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest.
- Constant tiredness.
- Using a peak flow meter shows poor lung function.
Tips to Manage Asthma at Home
Although conventional treatment options provide relief from asthma, best results are obtained when you take care of this condition at home over long term. Small, yet effective changes made in day-to-day living can provide far more relief than medicines alone. Given below are some simple and easy tips that can help you in managing asthma at home:
1. Clear your Home
A home can act as heaven for many allergens that can trigger your asthma attack. Therefore,
- Remove all carpets because carpets hold on to allergens like dust, pollen, and animal fur;
- Remove indoor plants and flower arrangements to get rid of pollen;
- Keep the litter box of your pet outside the house;
- Avoid furry pets;
- Use an air cleaner to get rid of allergens in the air; and
- Use an air filter if there is a smoker in the house.
- Clean carpets, sofas, bed linen, curtains, etc regularly to avoid accumulation of dust mites, pollen, animal dander, etc.
2. Identify your Triggers
Triggers are all those conditions, irritants or allergens that initiate your asthma attack or worsen your condition further. These vary from person to person, so you should ask your doctor to help you test your triggers. Perhaps, one of the most important factors to manage asthma at home is to know your triggers well, make a list of those things, and slowly try to eliminate them.
3. Know your Condition Better
There are three zones that a person suffering from asthma can fall into.
- The Green Zone:
- None or occasional coughing or wheezing
- Can breathe easily
- Night sleep is not disturbed
- Can perform all daily activities
- Regular medicines need to be taken
- The Yellow Zone:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Difficulty in breathing
- Tightness in the chest
- Disturbed sleep at night
- Inability to do some of the regular activities
- In addition to regular medicines, one might need extra medicines to deal with the acute episode
- The Red Zone: It indicates danger if there is:
- Severe difficulty in breathing
- Flared nostrils
- Hard and fast breathing
- Difficulty in talking or walking
- In this case, contact the doctor or emergency services immediately, as this could lead to a condition known as status asthmaticus. It could cause respiratory failure and can be life-threatening in some cases.
- Explain your condition and the necessary action required during emergencies to your care-givers. If the affected person is a child, inform the school and day-care as well.
- Relaxation techniques: Stress is one of the major triggers of asthma. Do practice these relaxation techniques to deal with stress:
- deep breathing;
- mindful meditation;
- progressive muscle relaxation, where you contract and relax each muscle in your body; and
- guided imagery, where you focus on one image to relax
Despite all odds linked with this condition, asthma need not restrict the quality of your life. If you are willing to make certain lifestyle changes and have adequate support at home, it can be managed well.