(StatePoint) More than 26 million Americans are living with asthma, including 6.2 million children. While there is no cure, asthma can be managed and treated so that those with the condition can live normal, healthy lives — indoors as well as outdoors.
May is Asthma Awareness Month and a great opportunity to learn more about common triggers — which include respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise and emotions — as well as better understand what causes your symptoms. To get started, the American Lung Association is offering the following tips.
1. Combat indoor allergens.
Animal dander, dust mites and mold are common allergens found indoors that can cause asthma symptoms. Keeping a clean home can help keep the presence of such allergens in check. For allergen-specific cleaning tips, as well as strategies for reducing the growth of mold and dust mites in your home, visit Lung.org/asthma-triggers. Be forewarned, cleaning supplies that have odors and fragrances can cause asthma symptoms to flare. Check the label and stick to safe, asthma-friendly products.
2. Avoid smoke and tobacco.
Any kind of smoke, including tobacco smoke as well as smoke from e-cigarettes or “vaping,” are known to irritate the airways of the lung. If you have asthma, don’t smoke and avoid being around people who do. If you need help quitting, visit Lung.org/ffs or call 1-800-LUNGUSA.
3. Stay weather-aware.
Climate change increases the risk that air pollution will worsen. Be aware that extreme weather events, such as drought, floods, wildfires and tornados, can create airborne irritants and allergens for individuals with asthma. Use the Air Quality Index found on the American Lung Association site to stay aware of current conditions and help protect yourself from outdoor air pollution. People with asthma will want to avoid being outside on days when the air quality index value is above 100, or in the orange, red, purple or maroon categories.
4. Know your own triggers.
Avoiding and controlling your asthma triggers all begins with identifying them. Work with your doctor to find out what allergens or irritants may be causing your asthma symptoms; an allergy test can help. Together you and your doctor can create an Asthma Action Plan that includes finding simple solutions to reduce your exposure to your asthma triggers and make breathing easier. You can learn more about your asthma and how to manage triggers at Lung.org/asthma, and through a free one-hour, interactive online course at Lung.org/asthma-basics.
If you suffer from asthma or love someone who does, take steps to better understand the condition and reduce the presence of common triggers in your everyday life.
Photo 1 Credit: (c) KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images
Photo 2 Credit: (c) Tevarak / Getty Images
Photo 3 Credit: (c) snb2087 – iStockPhoto.com
Photo 4 Credit: (c) FatCamera / Getty Images