About 25 million Americans face the challenge of living with asthma, as do those who love them. Family members worry, feel stressed and have many questions. If you are living with someone with asthma, there are number of things you can do to make life easier for him or her and for yourself.
- Be Familiar with Their Action Plan: This plan is a written outline that explains how to take medications and what to do if certain symptoms appear or an attack seems imminent.
- Keep Necessary Medications On-Hand: “If there is any one drug that most asthmatics should have on board, it would probably be the albuterol inhaler,” says Richard Castriotta, MD, associate director of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the University of Texas Houston Medical School. So if you loved one can’t carry it, you should have one on you as well.
- Assist Asthmatic Children with Monitoring their Asthma: If your child has asthma, it could be helpful to measure how well your child is breathing compared to normal breathing. Have them blow into a device called a peak flow meter.
- Control Pets: Cat dander is a common trigger for asthma, but dogs can be as well. That is why it could be beneficial to keep these pets out of the house, or limit where they can go in the house.
- Identify Environmental Triggers: Everyone who has asthma has different triggers that can worsen asthma symptoms or bring on an asthma attack. Some of the most common triggers are dust, pet dander, mold, tobacco smoke, and air pollution.
- Keep Your Indoor Environment Clean: Although it is almost impossible to control all the possible asthma triggers, establishing clean indoor surroundings can help. Try to mop and vacuum once or twice a week, change filters, wash bedding and stuffed toys in hot water every week and do not allow smoking in your home.
- Take Precautions When they Exercise: Speak with your doctor about whether your asthmatic child or other family members with asthma should use an inhaler before exercising or participating in sports. Be careful when conditions are likely to trigger asthma.
- Avoid Humidifiers or Swamp coolers: If your loved one is sensitive to dust mites or mold, avoid introducing more moisture into the home environment. Keep your indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent.
- Cook at Home: Cooking at home will give you more control over the food that your family eats. Plus, if you know the foods that may trigger your family member’s asthma, you can create a fun, tasty diet without those foods, and not have to worry if a restaurant cooks with a certain ingredient.