Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Minimize Asthma Attacks
About 25 million Americans — adults, teens, and kids — have been diagnosed with asthma, and that number is increasing every year, according to the latest data from the CDC. Although asthma medications can play a pivotal role in controlling symptoms and preventing dangerous asthma attacks, you can do several things to reduce those risks and enjoy better health, too.
At Medical Access, our health care team focuses on comprehensive solutions to asthma care, offering custom treatment plans to patients at our locations in Germantown, Maryland, and Alexandria and Woodbridge, Virginia. Here are six lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your asthma symptoms.
Know what triggers your symptoms
Asthma affects different people in different ways. Though one person’s symptoms might be triggered by pollen or mold, another person might have an adverse response to animal dander or perfumes. Still others experience symptom flare-ups during physical exercise, when their lungs are working extra hard. Once you identify your triggers, it’s easier to take steps to avoid them — or at least to know when you’re more likely to need your inhaler.
Get more exercise
Exercise keeps your lungs and airways in good shape, helping to maintain the normal elasticity that supports healthy breathing (and prevents attacks). A 2015 study found aerobic exercise significantly reduced asthma attacks and inflammation in people with moderate-to-severe asthma. In fact, moderate exercise (like regular walking) is important even if you suffer from exercise-induced asthma.
Hack your diet
Research shows foods high in antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E may help reduce asthma symptoms by reducing inflammation and supporting optimal lung function. That means you should focus on eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables along with leafy greens. Avoiding unhealthy fats and deep-fried foods may also help.
Lose those extra pounds
Habits like getting more exercise and eating healthier are important in another way, too: They can help you lose excess weight, which can also reduce your asthma symptoms. Not only does excess weight make it harder to exercise, but it can also make you breathe more heavily during physical activity, which, in turn, can trigger an asthma attack. Plus, extra belly fat can press on your ribs, making it harder to breathe overall.
Work on de-stressing
It isn’t always easy to reduce your stress levels, but studies show stress is related to a whole host of health problems — including asthma symptoms. When you’re anxious, your breathing rate often speeds up, and your chest and airway muscles become tense and rigid — changes that can trigger an asthma attack. Activities like yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, focused breathing, and meditation can help reduce stress to help you control your asthma and enjoy better overall wellness, too.
It might seem obvious, but if you have asthma, it’s important not to smoke. Smoke is a major trigger for asthma symptoms (even secondhand smoke), and it also impairs lung function, which means your asthma symptoms can be a lot worse. Smoking also makes your asthma medications less effective. Finally, if you have kids with asthma, quitting is even more important to help them enjoy better health now and in the future.
Keep your asthma under control
At Medical Access, we offer comprehensive family health care services, including asthma management, for patients of all ages. If you have asthma, let us help you keep your symptoms under control. Call one of our three locations to schedule an appointment or for symptom treatment, just stop by — we offer walk-in services, too.