Asthma is often a lifelong condition, but that doesn't mean you or your child should have trouble breathing all the time. When you work with a doctor and pay attention to your symptoms -- you may need to adjust your medications for optimal control of your asthma -- you will likely be able to keep flares at bay and do all the things you want to do.
If your asthma isn't as controlled as it could be from day to day, here are a few things you can do to help.
Learn and Avoid Your Triggers
Pay attention to when and where you have symptoms like wheezing and coughing. If you can pinpoint the things that cause your asthma flare-ups, you might be able to avoid them.
Foods and drinks that have compounds called sulfites -- like beer, wine, potatoes, dried fruit, and shrimp -- can make asthma worse for some people. So can some medicines, like aspirin and other pain relievers, or prescription drugs such as some common high blood pressure meds (beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors). If you take these drugs and think they're affecting your asthma, ask your doctor if there are other options you can try.
Strong odors also can cause asthma attacks, so it may help to steer clear of things like perfume, hair spray, talcum powder, and cigarette smoke. If you're a smoker, kick the habit -- ask your doctor how he can help you quit. If anyone else in your home lights up, ask them to quit, too. Even if they only smoke outside, they will still bring the smell and chemicals inside on their clothes and hair.
Some types of exercise can be harder with asthma, but that doesn't mean workouts aren’t good for you. Regular physical activity is crucial for your overall health, including your lungs. One recent study found that people with asthma who exercised for 30 minutes a day were two and a half times more likely to have control over their symptoms, compared with those who didn't exercise at all.
If intense running or training is too tough for you, try activities like hiking, biking, and yoga. Swimming can be a great sport for people with asthma, since the warm, moist air around most pools usually doesn’t trigger symptoms.
Kids with asthma need to exercise and play sports, too. Just be sure your child takes his medicine as prescribed and has a quick-relief inhaler nearby at all times.