- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
How to Manage Your Asthma by Implementing Effective Asthma Action Plan?
Asthma Action Plan
According to the studies, asthma affects 300 million people in the world and kills about 255,000 people worldwide every year. Asthma affects people of all ages, but most often it starts during the childhood period. It will be caused by the narrowing of the breathing tubes (airways) in the lungs which will make the breathing difficult.
Asthma is a chronic disease and normally considering as an incurable illness. A normal and active social life is possible for an asthma patient, if he is capable to find and implement a suitable long term asthma action plan successfully. To select or find appropriate treatment options, the patient should have profound knowledge about the basic facts of the disease. By understanding about asthma deeply or with the help of a good doctor, you can manage your asthma problems into a comfortable level which will help to lead a normal life.
Asthma causes inflammation of the air passages that result in the temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. This discomfort results in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. In a severe attack, the patient will find it is difficult to talk also.
With the help of your doctor, you have to develop a personal asthma action plan which should consist of the list of asthma triggers, your responses to the different symptoms, your level of asthma attacks and the list of medicines that should be used for immediate care and for long term treatment. For the successful management of your asthma, you should follow this action plan without fail.
Major Features of Asthma
- One of the symptoms of asthma is the obstruction of the airways. During asthma attack, the bands of muscle surrounding the airways tighten and make the movement of the air difficult. This results in the shortness of the breath and causes a whistling sound which is called as wheezing. The narrowing of the passage in asthma attack is partially or completely reversible with proper treatment.
- Asthma patients have swollen bronchial tubes because of the inflammation. The treatment for this inflammation is the important aspect of the long term cure of this disease.
- Asthma attack can be dangerous when the blocked airways fail to supply oxygen to the body’s vital organs. It also blocks the removal of carbon dioxide (which is poisonous if not expelled) from the lungs in the required rate. In such cases urgent hospitalization is needed.
- Asthma usually affects in the childhood itself. The children who have low birth weight and those who are exposed to tobacco smoke are the main victims of this disease. Premature birth or the birth by Caesarean sections will become causes for the attack of asthma in children. Among children, boys have more chance to affect asthma, but in adulthood asthma is developing more in women.
- Allergies are one of the main causes of asthma. Allergic reactions triggered by antibodies in the blood often lead to the inflammation in the airways. Animal proteins, dust, cockroaches and fungi are the common sources of allergies.
- Smoking habit is associated with the high risk of asthma. Children of the parents who have the habit of smoking are also have the same risk.
- Outdoor pollutions and weather changes can be the reasons of asthma. In addition to the pollutions, some gases like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone etc. will become triggers for asthma. Cold air can lead to the congestion of the airways. Humidity condition of some places also affects asthma patients.
- Overweight or obesity is another cause of this disease. Those who have body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 are at the risk of asthma attack and this risk will be doubled if the BMI is above 30.
- .Asthma risk is high for those who are suffering from chronic stress.
- Heredity or genes from the parents play an important role in the development of asthma. Having a parent with asthma increases a person’s risk of asthma attack by three to six times.
- People with asthma sensitivities can have asthma attack by the use of some drugs. Drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen etc.) and aspirin are come under this category. Beta-blockers which is using for the treatment of heart ailments, high blood pressure and migraine etc. and ACE inhibitors that are used for heart disease and high blood pressure are sometimes capable to cause asthma attack in some patients.
Symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are similar and that include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. A doctor will consider the medical history of the patient and do some physical examinations to find out the severity of the disease. But in children, the diagnosis will be difficult because of the similarity of the symptoms with the other diseases of childhood.
Triggers are the cause of the asthma attack. Your personal triggers can be different from those of another person with asthma. It is important that you should identify your triggers and avoid them for your safety. The common triggers of asthma are:
- Triggers that cause the inflammation to the airways are dust, animals, viral infections, cockroaches, pollens etc.
- Symptom triggers are not directly cause inflammation but they can be a reason for asthma attack, if your airways are already inflamed. These symptom triggers are cold air, exercise, smoke, chemical fumes, perfumes, air pollutants, and certain food additives.
Asthma Food Triggers
There is not any specification about the foods that an asthma patient should eat or avoid. Nutritious foods along with regular exercises are good for all including asthma patients. But if you have allergy to some foods, avoid them because food allergies can cause asthma attack. To find foods those are allergic to you, run a blood test for IgG. This test identifies how much IgG is producing your blood cells when they are exposed to a specific food and avoid those food/foods.
Studies show that Mediterranean diet is effective in the prevention of inflammation. Since asthma is the inflammation of the airways, this type of food will help you to control the disease. Mediterranean diet consists of heavy quantities of fruits, vegetables, olive oil etc. and fish, poultry, dairy products, red wine etc. in moderate quantities. There is also evidence that people who eat diet higher in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, magnesium, selenium, flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acid have lower rates of asthma.
If you are overweight, first preference should be given to reduce your weight. Also you should give up smoking habit, because asthma and this habit will not go together.
- Relief inhalers are helpful for the quick relief and bring back normal breathing. If you have asthma, you should keep one inhaler with you at all times. A relief inhaler can be used for the treatments of shortness breath, wheezing, tightness of chest and coughing. Do not use it more than twice a day (with a gap of 12 hours).
- Asthma can be mild, moderate or severe, but there is no permanent cure for this disease; but it can be managed by medicines and lifestyle changes. When a patient has got the attack of asthma, allow him to get as much as fresh air, give him warm water to drink, do not allow the person to get angry or stressed and keep him in a sitting position.
- Medicines are used for quick relief and for long term control of asthma. For the treatment of mild attack asthma, a short-acting beta2 agonist via a pressurized metered dose inhaler (broncho-dilator therapy) is used for quick relief. This should not use more than 2 days in a week. Corticosteroids inhaler is also used for the treatment.
- In the case of children also, inhaler with corticosteroids, montelukest or cromolyn are used. This should not be continued for a long time, because long term use will produce side effects.
- For older people, medicines such as aspirin, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medicines that they are using for their other ailments can prevent effective asthma treatment. Older people are also not strong enough to hold their breath for more than 10 seconds. The risk of weakening of the bones by the use of corticosteroids is also a problem in their treatment.
- As an emergency procedure, intubation (using a tube down through the throat) and mechanical ventilation are used for those having difficulty in breathing.
SIDE EFFECTS OF CORTICOSTEROIDS: Inhaled corticosteroids have certain side effects if it is using for long term such as mouth infection, clouding of the eye’s lens, and weakening of the bones. In children, inhaled corticosteroids will slow down their growth process.
Asthma Treatment and Symptoms
Asthma Home Remedies
Relying medicines only for the cure is not helpful for the management of asthma. You should find alternate options also to control this disease. To avoid your triggers, you should take following steps to reduce your exposure:
- Use air conditioner and decontaminate the rooms you are using.
- Clean your house regularly.
- Avoid close contacts with your pets.
- Cover your nose and mouth to prevent cold air.
You can also try some home remedies for the control of asthma. These remedies are not expensive and can be done in your home itself. They are:
- Irrigate your nose with salt water (saline solution) to soothe upper respiratory allergies and to wash away some of the inflammatory cells.
- Drink peppermint tea. Peppermint contains anti-inflammatory and mild antibacterial constituents; so it will act as a decongestant.
- Steam your face to get rid of nasal passage mucus. Breathe gently for 5 to 10 minutes and rinse a cloth with this water and hold the cloth on your sinuses (to the sides of your nose, below the eyes, about the eyebrows).
Asthma Under Control
By careful and strict administration of your asthma treatment plan, you can control your asthma and can be able to lead a normal and active life. You can be sure that your disease is in control if:
- You are normally active in your social life.
- Your symptoms do not trouble you more than 2 days in a week.
- You are getting normal sleep and not having any asthmatic symptoms more than one or two nights in a month.
- You are not using quick-relief medicines for more than 2 days in a week.
You should go to your doctor for check up every 2 to 6 weeks in early months of the disease and after that do the check up as per the suggestion of your physician.
Your daily life can be easily managed if you can find support from your family members and from your friends. Join in various social groups and online forums related to the disease and share your experiences and frustrations. This will give you moral support to execute your asthma action plan successfully. In addition of all these, maintain a healthy lifestyle. East good and nutritious food, exercise regularly, control and manage stress, enjoy ample leisure and of course avoid smoking habit.