Living With Asthma

You cannot prevent asthma entirely, but you can take steps to control it and prevent its symptoms. Understanding the condition is the best way to keep yourself healthy and safe.

About 5.3 million people in the UK suffer from asthma, a condition that affects the sufferer's airwaves, narrowing them and making it difficult to breathe. Asthma affects people of all ages and there are a number of different factors that can contribute to it.

Make and follow your Asthma Action Plan

About 75% of asthma-related hospital visits and about 95% of asthma-related deaths are avoidable. The best way to protect yourself is to create an asthma action plan - your step-by-step guide to staying on top of the disease. Your asthma action plan is personal to you and will be written with either your GP or asthma nurse. It will tell you what to do as part of your normal, everyday routine, as well as what to do in the event of oncoming symptoms or an attack.

Using your asthma action plan correctly makes you four times less likely to visit hospital and is the best way to stay protected against any health risks that might arise from the condition. The plan itself is made up of different sections and can help you with a number of issues - from reminding you of the medicines to take, to letting your friends or family know what to do if you ever have an asthma attack. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding any difficulties that might arise, make and follow your asthma action plan carefully. Make sure to update it regularly and ensure that you let your GP or asthma nurse know if any changes occur that make you think that your condition may have changed.

Avoid the triggers

The best way to keep yourself healthy without needing your medication is to avoid your triggers. A trigger is anything that causes you to suffer from the symptoms of asthma, and they can come in a number of forms.

Not every asthma sufferer is affected by the same triggers, and it is important that you understand what is going to cause your symptoms to begin. Avoid your triggers as best you can and keep up to date with your asthma action plan to stay as healthy as you can. Of course it's impossible to avoid all contact with your triggers so it's important that you keep your asthma under control as best you can as part of a daily routine, and take the necessary precautions when you know that you might come into contact with a trigger.

If, for example, you know that the cold weather causes you to have symptoms, then wrap a scarf around the lower half of your face to keep out the worst of it; and if you know that there are certain things - dust or animals, for example - that you know you regularly won't be able to avoid, talk to your GP or asthma nurse about extra medical precautions like antihistamine or steroid nasal sprays.

Keep your medication close at hand

It perhaps seems obvious, but it's important to remember to keep your medication at hand. A source of comfort as much as anything else, knowing that you can quickly and easily get to your inhaler is one of the best ways to avoid any potential issues that might arise.

There are certain places that you are likely to spend a lot of time so make sure that, if possible, you can keep backup medication close by. For example, if you know that you're likely to forget your inhaler, then it could be worth keeping a spare in your drawer at work or in your bedside table - it might not be much but it could mean that, in the event that you find yourself suffering without the right medication on your person, you could prevent further problems from arising.

Your inhaler is the first and most important defence against asthma. Having one handy and using it, in combination with an asthma attack plan put together by you and your doctor, is the best way to ensure that you stay as safe and healthy as you can.

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