What can you do to help your eosinophilic asthma treatments work their best? There are simple steps you can take each day to improve symptoms, quality of life, and overall health.
More Serious Asthma
Eosinophilic asthma is often more serious than other types of asthma. Your lungs, blood, and mucus have high levels of white blood cells called eosinophils. Having more eosinophils in your blood can lead to worse asthma attacks.
This condition affects everyone differently. You may not respond as well to the same therapy as another person with the same disease.
With this type of asthma, there are many things that can cause inflammation and block your airways. Your genes and environment may both affect how your treatments work for you.
Targeted Treatment Plan
Your doctor will make a treatment plan tailored for you. You’ll get more from your plan if you stick to it. Take your drugs at the same time every day to get the best results and control airway inflammation.
First, your doctor may prescribe a steroid inhaler. A steroid can lessen swelling and mucus so your airways stay open. You have to take inhaled steroids every day to manage your condition.
Some people with this kind of asthma don’t respond well to inhaled or oral steroids. They may not get relief from other standard asthma treatments either, like long-acting beta-2 agonists (LABA). Others do well on these controller drugs.
If your symptoms don’t get better, your doctor may prescribe one of a newer group of biologic drugs. It will cut down on the number of eosinophils. It’ll also target and block the sources of your inflammation.
Stick to Your Plan
Eosinophilic asthma drugs work only if you take them on schedule. You must take them regularly to manage symptoms and keep inflammation under control. You need to take some medicines daily or weekly.
Some biologic drugs come in prefilled syringe pens so you can give yourself shots at home. It’s your responsibility to take your medicine on time and not miss doses.
Let your doctor know if you have any problems with your plan. Tell them if you have any side effects or schedule conflicts that make it hard for you to stick to it. They may be able to change your dose or prescribe a similar medicine that works better for you.
Does Diet Matter?
Some research shows that a high-fat, low-fiber diet could make your flare-ups worse. A diet rich in red meat and processed foods could boost the eosinophils that cause inflamed airways.
The Mediterranean diet, which includes more fresh fruits and veggies, may help lower inflammation in your airways. Eating more fiber may also help you keep a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Research suggests that this can lower inflammation too.
A vitamin D supplement may help people who have this asthma. Your doctor can test you to see if you’re low in this vitamin. If not, supplements won’t do you any good.
If you’re overweight or obese, you may feel better if you lose the extra pounds. People who are obese and have asthma often have worse symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to lose weight and keep it off.
Smoking makes it harder for you to control your asthma. It makes drugs like inhaled steroids less effective. It can also trigger asthma attacks and make them worse.
If you smoke, stop. Stay away from secondhand smoke too. Vapes and other e-cigarettes may also be unhealthy for your lungs. If you smoke tobacco or vape, talk to your doctor about how you can get help to quit.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Regular physical activity is good for everyone with asthma. Exercise keeps your lungs and heart healthy.
Take your medications as your doctor prescribes to keep your airways open. This will let you do regular exercise without wheezing or getting out of breath.
Before you head outside to exercise, check for any poor air quality alerts in your area. Try not to exercise outdoors when the air is bad because of high smog, wildfires, or very hot and humid weather. These environments can be risky for people with asthma. Exercise indoors instead.
Manage Stress, Get Enough Sleep
Too much tension and anxiety can lead to higher eosinophilic inflammation in your lungs.
This can bring on symptoms like shortness of breath. They may feel worse at times like this. While you can’t stay away from all stress, learn ways to manage it and relax. Exercise is one way to burn it off.
If your treatment doesn’t control your condition well, you may not sleep well. And asthma raises your chances of having sleep apnea, which can lead to high inflammation in your airways. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not clear whether poor sleep makes asthma worse. But it can sap your energy and make it harder to manage stress, too.
Try to have good sleep habits so you get enough rest. Set a regular bedtime. Turn off the TV and your electronic devices when it’s time to rest. Cut back on caffeine. Don’t nap if it keeps you awake all night.
David G. Hill, MD, pulmonologist, Waterbury Pulmonary Associates, Waterbury, CT; national board member, American Lung Association
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Mayo Clinic: “Eosinophilia.”
Journal of Asthma and Allergy: “Diagnosis and Management of Eosinophilic Asthma: A U.S. Perspective.”
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Journal of Clinical Medicine: “Severe Eosinophilic Asthma.”
Current Opinions in Pulmonary Medicine: “Asthma in Smokers: Challenges and Opportunities.”
Electronic Medicines Compendium: “Fasenra 30 mg solution for injection in prefilled syringe.”
Nutrients: “Diet and Asthma: Is It Time to Adapt Our Message?”
CDC: “Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.”
American Lung Association: “Being Active With Asthma.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Stress and Asthma.”
National Sleep Foundation: “Asthma and Sleep.”
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Eosinophilic Asthma Patients with Chronic Rhinosinusitis with Nasal Polyps Appear Highly Responsive to Reslizumab.”