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Monday, August 31, 2009

How to manage difficult asthma

When I was growing up with hardluck asthma my parents and grandparents and teachers inadvertently placed me in situations that made my asthma worse. They did not do this on purpose. In fact, they probably didn't even know they did it.

I remember my parents taking me to grandma and grandpa's house, and grandpa would chain smoke. That, coupled with smoke raging from the fireplace itself, resulted in me feeling pretty crummy. That's just one example I wrote about a while ago.

But, as the old saying goes, "You do the best you can with the knowledge you have, and when you learn better you do better." And now with new asthma wisdom, we know better. So, through experience and by educating myself with the latest Asthma Wisdom, I have learned (the hard way) some tips for managing Hardluck Asthma.

Thus is the premise of my most recent post at

10 Tips For Managing Even The Toughest Asthma
by Rick Frea Wednesday, August 26, 2009 @

So, you (or your asthmatic child) are on all the right asthma medicines, see all the best doctors, are compliant with your medicine regime, and yet you still seem to have trouble managing your asthma. You are, by my definition, a hardluck asthmatic. Now you're wondering: what else can I do to get my asthma under control?

Understanding that there is no cure for asthma, I do however have some basic tips based on my own experience I think might help you out. While many of these are straightforward, they sometimes go overlooked even by the most
gallant asthmatic (or the most gallant asthmatic parents).

Here are some tips that might help you better control your asthma:

1. Do not smoke. What more needs to be said. Not only does this damage your lungs and lead to worse asthma, it can trigger an attack. Cigarette smoke is one of the main causes of severe persistent asthma.

2. Avoid exposure to second hand smoke: Every
study I've ever seen on this topic shows that second hand smoke can do as much damage to your lungs as first hand smoke. It's not just kids, second hand smoke is harmful to everyone exposed to it.

3. Avoid third hand smoke: You may be thinking I just made that up, but it's real. According to our own Dr. James Thompson,
3rd hand smoke is considered breathing in "the small particulate residue of the burnt tobacco left behind from smoking that occurred minutes, hours or days ago." Like 1st and 2nd hand smoke, this too can trigger asthma. This is one of the main reasons the hospital I work for has gone completely smoke free, and anyone who even shows up smelling like smoke is politely asked to leave. Likewise, you should do whatever possible to create a smoke-free environment, which includes never allowing anyone to smoke in your home or car even when you are not present.

4. Learn your asthma triggers: This may be a good time to review the list of possible asthma triggers I wrote about in
this post.

5. Avoid obvious asthma triggers: Some triggers are obvious, like when I was a hardluck asthmatic I'd have an asthma attack every time I visited certain homes, like my friend Todd's parent's house, or my brother Bob's, or my dad's cabin. Sure avoiding these places may not be fun, but it might be the best way to control your asthma.

6. Avoid hidden asthma triggers: You've lived in your current residence for how long? Don't think your house, or something outside it, is innocent of causing your asthma. There may be mold or dustmites lingering in places you never expected. I had a friend once who had terrible asthma. Upon inspection, he found that there was mold on one wall in the basement. After he took care of that, his asthma symptoms disappeared.

7. Learn about hidden triggers: So you inspected your home and found no obvious asthma triggers. Well, think again, because there may still be hidden dust mites, molds or pet dander triggering your asthma. Perhaps, then, it's time you have the air quality in your home tested. When I was a kid my parents had this done by expensive professionals at the request of my doctors at
National Jewish Health, and it was found that my mom's plants had mold in them that I was allergic to, and there was pet dander all over the home. Now NJH has a Family Air Care kit so you can do this testing on your own as the Asthma Mom writes about in this post.

8. Learn what triggers are outside: However annoying it may be, pollen in the air outside your home can be avoided by using some tips
I write about in this post. There may be other triggers outside you may have overlooked, such as dust that spews up from that gravel driveway or road every time a car goes by, or harmful particulates that might be expectorated from the factory across the street. If you cannot remove these triggers, you may have to relocate.

9. You may need to renovate: Once you learned about your hidden asthma triggers, you may choose to renovate your home in an attempt to remove such triggers. You can paint that moldy wall, rebuild that musty basement bathroom, or replace shaggy carpets with hardwood flooring that is easier to clean.

10. Don't be afraid to relocate: Perhaps you're attached to your home, but if it or something around it is triggering you to have hardluck asthma and you cannot remove the source, then it may be necessary to move to a new, more asthma-friendly home.

Perhaps by reviewing this list you have found something that you overlooked before. Don't worry, it's easy to do. While change may be challenging, it's often the key to regaining control of your hardluck asthma.

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