Last year I was officially diagnosed with asthma, and keeping my asthma under control has been a struggle, especially during this cold and flu season. Learn how to deal with severe asthma on your own.
I have always had a family history of asthma. I grew up with a father and brother who both needed an inhaler to keep their asthma under control, and both my older son and daughter also developed asthma at a young age. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with either my son or daughter needing their inhaler and later needing an in-home nebulizer to get their asthma episodes under control.
There’s no worse feeling than watching your children go through an asthma attack and knowing that you’re incapable of doing anything besides giving them an albuterol treatment and hoping that they’ll get better. I thought that I was exempt until this past winter when I developed a cold that turned into pneumonia. I found it more and more difficult to breathe and breathing in and out hurt. I could also hear a wheezing sound when I breathe, so I knew something was wrong. After paying a visit to my doctor who tested my breathing and listened to my lungs, I was diagnosed with asthma. So now, my pocketbook generally includes my essentials, wallet, phone, and an albuterol inhaler.
Unfortunately, I’m not alone, there are currently over 25 million Americans living with asthma, and for many, it’s more than just an inconvenience. Not only can asthma make it difficult to breathe, but with the spring months approaching, asthma triggers abound with newly growing trees, grass, flowers, and spring cleaning. While a majority of Americans live active and healthy lives, many others suffer daily with severe asthma symptoms, despite using high-dose asthma medicine and avoiding their triggers.
My dad was in that minority. I remember seeing my father struggle with his breathing. He would be short of breath, wheeze, and complain that there was a pain in his chest. I remember being so scared one day because nothing my mother did, including using his inhaler and nebulizer, gave him any relief, and he had to be taken away in an ambulance. Then I struggled as well with my own kids when they were younger, especially with my daughter. I would be up in the middle of the night with my nebulizer machine, and there would be days when those treatments didn’t work, and we would have to be seen in the emergency room. There were days of missed school and, in my case, missed workdays because I had to stay home to monitor their treatment.
If you’re also experiencing the same thing, you could be dealing with severe asthma. This type of asthma affects approximately 5-10 percent of people with asthma. Severe asthma is dangerous; it increases your death risk, depression, and can limit your ability to work or even go to school. However, asthma control is vital and is attainable, even for those with severe asthma.
The American Lung Association is America’s trusted source for lung health education, lung disease research, support, programs, services, and advocacy, leading the way in helping all Americans breathe easier. There is a wealth of knowledge to be found on their website, including Questions to Ask Your Doctor to enable you to have a productive conversation with your healthcare provider regarding your illness.
3 Steps to Help Manage Severe Asthma
Learn as much as you can about your severe asthma. The Lung Association is a great resource, and there are many articles on their website that can help you in your research. You don’t want to wait until you are in the emergency room or need steroids before knowing what’s happening to you. Learn about the symptoms of a severe asthma attack and be aware of changes that can mean that it’s getting worse.
Create a Management Plan
Visit your health care provider regularly and together develop a plan on how you can go about managing your asthma. This includes steps on reducing your asthma attacks, what to do in an emergency, treatments, medication plans, etc. Remember to take your medication as prescribed, and it’s essential you understand how and when to take them, and if any issues arise to alert your provider.
Learn & Reduce Your Triggers
Triggers can be several different things, including food, pollen, tobacco, dust, weather fragrances, etc., identifying your triggers and what causes your asthma attack, and limiting or avoiding them altogether is a step in the right direction to reducing your asthma attacks.
No one should have to struggle to breathe, and there are ways to help even the most severe asthma cases. Do you think that you may have uncontrolled asthma or severe asthma symptoms? Find out by taking the My Asthma Control Assessment.
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