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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Asthma
General Guidelines for Managing Asthma
- Reduce your exposure to allergens that trigger asthma.
- Pay attention to warning signs when they occur.
- Treat symptoms early.
- Ask your doctor about physical activity.
- Get a yearly flu shot.
Take these steps to control dust mites:
- Wash bedding once a week in hot water. Water must be hotter than 130 degrees F (60 degrees C) to kill dust mites.
- Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof, zippered covers.
- Avoid cloth-covered cushions.
- If your pillow does not have a dust proof cover, wash your pillow each week in hot water.
- Reduce indoor humidity below 60%. Dehumidifiers and central air conditioners can help.
- If possible, remove carpets from your bedroom.
- If stuffed toys are in the house, keep them off your bed. Wash stuffed toys weekly in hot water.
Take these steps if you are allergic to pets:
- If possible, keep pets out of your home.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom and other sleeping areas at all times, and keep the door closed.
- Keep pets away from fabric-covered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys. If possible, remove carpet from your home.
Take these steps to control cockroaches and mice in your home:
- Do not leave out food. Store food in airtight containers.
- Make sure trash in your home is properly stored in containers with lids that close securely. Remove trash daily.
- Try using poison baits, boric acid, or traps before using pesticide sprays.
- Do not stay in a room that has recently been sprayed with a pesticide. Wait until the odor has cleared before going back to the room.
Take these steps to control mold:
- Fix plumbing leaks and other moisture problems.
- Use a bleach cleaner to wash mold off hard surfaces. Let the surface dry completely.
Take these steps to avoid irritants:
- Avoid using strong-smelling products, like perfume, paint, or powders.
- Avoid wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or kerosene heaters.
- If you smoke, quit. Avoid being around people who smoke. Do not allow smoking in your home or car.
Ask someone to vacuum for you. Stay out of the room after it is vacuumed. If you vacuum:
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or microfilter bag.
- Wear a dust mask.
Take these steps to control asthma due to allergies to pollen and outdoor mold:
- Try to keep windows closed during allergy season.
- Pollen and some mold counts can be highest in late morning to afternoon. Stay indoors and keep windows closed during this time when possible.
- Talk to your doctor about changes to your medication routine before allergy season starts.
- Avoid exercise or any physical exertion when air pollution levels are high.
- Talk to your doctor about immunotherapy for allergens that are most persistent.
- Avoid aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relievers if you have a known sensitivity to these drugs.
- 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
- Make sure you have good asthma control before exercising.
- If exercise triggers your asthma, ask your doctor about using a short-acting beta-agonist about 15 minutes before exercise.
- 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 season, 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.
- With any new activity, gradually increase your intensity.
When to Contact Your Doctor
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Reduce asthma triggers. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/taking-control-of-asthma/reduce-asthma-triggers.html . Accessed September 9, 2013.
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So you have asthma. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/have%5Fasthma.pdf . Published March 2007. Accessed September 9, 2013.
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10/29/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Howden-Chapman P, Pierse N, Nicholls S, et al. Effects of improved home heating on asthma in community dwelling children: randomised controlled trial. BMJ . 2008 Sep 23.
2/17/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Bailey EJ, Cates CJ, Kruske S, Morris A, Chang A, Brown N. Culture-specific programs for children and adults from minority groups who have asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD006580.
9/2/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Van der Meer V, Bakker MJ, van den Hout WB, et al. Internet based self-management plus education compared with usual care in asthma: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med . 2009;151:110-120.
10/9/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Mireku N, Wang Y, Ager J, Reddy R, Baptist A. Changes in weather and the effects on pediatric asthma exacerbations. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol . 2009;(3):220.
11/13/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Vempati R, Bijlani RL, Deepak KK. The efficacy of a comprehensive lifestyle modification programme based on yoga in the management of bronchial asthma: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Pulm Med . 2009;9:37.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : 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's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : 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):e724-732.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013