Luckily, there are things that you can do to breathe better when your inhaler is out of reach.
In the Moment
If you are having an attack, or you feel one coming, try these techniques:
Sit up. You may want to lie down when an attack hits. Don't. If you do, or even if you only bend over, it could restrict your breathing more.
Focus on your breathing. There are different methods that you can practice so that you're ready if the moment comes. They can also help you when you're not having an attack:
The Buteyko method teaches you to breathe slowly and calmly through your nose instead of your mouth. If you use this technique, the air in your body will stay warm and moist. This helps your airways become less sensitive when you breathe.
The Papworth method uses breathing and relaxation exercises to help you learn special breath patterns. It encourages more relaxed breathing and makes you more aware of the muscles you use when you take air in. For example, you’ll use your diaphragm and nose instead of your chest and mouth. The Papworth method also teaches how to alter your breathing according to the activity you're doing.
Talk with your doctor. Both of these take time to learn, and you’ll need to practice each in order for them to help with your asthma.
Stay away from triggers. Some things around you or in your home can make your asthma worse. If you're having an attack -- or even if you're not -- try to stay away from these things as much as you can:
- Pollen, dust, mold, pet dander
- People with the common cold
- Cold air
- Some drugs, like aspirin, beta-blockers, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium
- Preservatives in foods and drinks
Drink caffeine. A coffee, soda, tea, or other drink with caffeine can help your airways open. A small amount of caffeine can help you breathe better for up to 4 hours. We need more research to know if caffeinated drinks can permanently help with symptoms of asthma.
You can also put some drops on a napkin and lay it close to your nose while you sleep to help you get better rest.
Talk to your doctor about this before you try it. Some products with eucalyptus oil also contain chemicals that can aggravate asthma in some people.
Try mustard oil. Warmed-up oil from mustard seeds can help you breathe. The oil opens your passageways and helps your lungs work after you rub it on your chest. It’s safe, so you can use it as much as you need to feel better.
None of these suggestions are recommended to replace one's asthma plan.
Reach out to your doctor for a refill on the inhaler or advice.
When to Call Your Doctor
If none of these suggestions help and you can’t find an inhaler, call your doctor. If your breathing gets worse or you start to feel drowsy, call 911 right away.