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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Asthma

General Guidelines for Managing Asthma

Making some lifestyle changes can help you avoid triggers that may cause an asthma attack.

  Reduce Your Exposure to Allergens or Irritants That Trigger Asthma

Allergens may irritate asthma symptoms in some people. Reducing contact with these allergens may be helpful. Allergy shots may help if allergens are a regular problem. It will introduce small amounts of allergen. Over time the body may adjust and decrease the reaction to tjhe allergen.

  Pay Attention to Warning Signs

Do not ignore warning signs. Early treatment may make it easier to manage symptoms.

Warning signs include:

  • Increased shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • An increased need to use bronchodilators
  • Fitful sleep patterns
  • Frequent coughing or coughing spasms, especially at night
  • Worsening peak expiratory flow if you use a device that measures your expiratory flow

An online program may help to manage your symptoms. Groups like the American Lung Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offer information on web-based tools and support groups.

  Ask Your Doctor About Physical Activity

In general, asthma should not limit your physical activities. You may need to limit strenuous physical activity after an asthma attack. Consider the following when exercising:

  • Have good asthma control before exercising.
  • If exercise is a trigger. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.
  • Try warming-up for at least 10 minutes before exercise. The warm up may include walking or other low-intensity activities.
  • Avoid other triggers such as high pollution levels, pollen, freshly cut grass, or cold. If cold is a trigger, wear a scarf or mask to warm the air before it hits your lungs.
  • Consider changing the length or intensity of exercise if mild symptoms persist.
  • Gradually increase your intensity with any new activity.

Weight Loss

Weight loss may improve control in people who are overweight or obese.

Ask About Vaccinations

Asthma can lead to a higher risk for flu-related complications. Adults and children older than 6 months old should get a yearly flu shot.

Children with asthma should receive all recommended vaccinations

Avoid Smoke

Cigarette smoke can trigger asthma and make symptoms worse. If you smoke, look for tools to help you quit. If you live with someone who smokes talk about ways to decrease smoke in your house.

Other forms of smoke can also irritate asthma. This includes wood stoves or camp fires.

REFERENCES:

Asthma exacerbation in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114076/Asthma-exacerbation-in-adults-and-adolescents. Updated May 25, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.

Asthma exacerbation in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T241915/Asthma-exacerbation-in-children. Updated August 22, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.

Asthma in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114449/Asthma-in-adults-and-adolescents. Updated November 16, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.

Asthma in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T500326/Asthma-in-children. Updated August 22, 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.

Dogra S, Kuk JL, Baker J, Jamnik V. Exercise is associated with improved asthma control in adults. Eur Respir J. 2011;37(2):318-323.

Mapp CE, Boschetto P, Maestrelli P, Fabbri LM. Occupational asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005;172(3):280-305.

National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert panel report III: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-pro/guidelines/current/asthma-guidelines/full-report. Updated April 2012. Accessed January 16, 2019.

Reduce asthma triggers. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/living-with-asthma/managing-asthma/reduce-asthma-triggers.html. Accessed January 16, 2019.

What causes or triggers asthma. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website. Available at: http://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-triggers-causes.aspx. Updated September 2015. Accessed January 16, 2019.

1/4/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114449/Asthma-in-adults-and-adolescents: McLean S, Chandler D, Nurmatov U, Liu J, Pagliari C, Car J, Sheikh A. Telehealthcare for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(10):CD007717.

5/4/2012 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116833/Environmental-control-of-asthma: Woodfine L, Neal RD, Bruce N, et al. Enhancing ventilation in homes of children with asthma: pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Br J Gen Pract. 2011;61(592):e724-e732.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 9/8/2017