7 Ways to Prevent an Asthma Attack

Asthma has many potential triggers, and if you've suffered from the condition for a while, you may be well aware of what makes you wheeze. And while taking your asthma medication on a regular basis can go a long way toward minimizing attacks, there is more you can do to keep the condition at bay. Here, seven strategies:

1. Stay healthy. For some people, a cold or the flu means an asthma attack as well. Prevent a cold by washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with sick people. And don't forget your flu shot!

2. Avoid allergens. Asthma attacks can be set off by environmental allergens such as ragweed and pollen. Your healthcare provider can perform tests to determine what you're allergic to and will prescribe medication you can take before leaving the house. On days when levels of a particular allergen are high, you may want to minimize your time outside.

3. Bundle up. Some folks suffer from asthma related to cold weather. If that's you, avoid exercising outdoors when the temperature drops, and make sure your mouth and nose are covered with a scarf if you do venture out.

4. Ward off mold growth. Just like seasonal allergens, mold can be a potent asthma trigger. Promptly clean up any water leaks in your home, and run the bathroom fan or crack the window during your showers. Strive for an optimum humidity level of between 30 percent and 60 percent, using either a dehumidifier or an air conditioner.

5. Create a safe sleep environment. Your bedroom can be a hotbed of asthma triggers. To avoid nighttime wheezing, invest in dust-proof covers for mattresses and pillows, wash your bedding in super-hot water to kill allergens, give away stuffed animals, and pull up carpeting in favor of bare floors.

6. Keep creepy-crawlies away. Some asthma sufferers find that insects and rodents (and their droppings) set the wheezing in motion. Be vigilant in discouraging these pests from visiting: Tightly cover all pet food and leftovers, clean up crumbs immediately, fill in tiny crevices in your walls, and make sure screens have no rips or tears.

7. Wave goodbye to wood smoke. Logs burning in a fireplace may look (and smell) lovely, but can emit just enough smoke to trigger an asthma attack. If you're sensitive to smoke and fumes, skip the firepit and fireside chats. If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, consider upgrading to a gas version.

Jonathan Parsons, MD, reviewed this article.



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