Asthma, says the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, is a chronic condition that involves inflammation of the airways. People with asthma may experience chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and breathlessness. Many things can bring an attack on, including dietary, psychological and environmental factors, and this condition can leave an asthmatic person feeling sickly, unfit or simply inadequate.
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Since asthma varies in severity by person and can be impacted by a season change, it can be hard to know how to help someone with this condition feel comfortable at home. If you’re living or spending time with an asthmatic person, here are some things you should know to help them feel happy, respected and more comfortable.
1. Smoking Is Off The Table
Secondhand smoke can cause an asthma sufferer even more respiratory damage, and it also makes it harder for them to breathe. Consider smoking elsewhere. If they don’t mind if you smoke nearby, make sure you don’t blow smoke in anyone’s direction and that the area is well-ventilated.
2. Dust Can Be A Factor
Dust, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, is a common asthma trigger. Dust, clean and vacuum to help prevent dust build-up in the home, and keep the house ventilated by opening at least three windows for a bit each day so that fresh air can circulate.
3. Pets Can Be A Problem
Dander and pet fur can make asthma symptoms worse in some people. Consider this before you buy a pet if you’re living with an asthma sufferer. If you have a pet already, keep the animal groomed, and keep fur off all the furniture and the bed as much as possible.
4. Mold Is A Serious Matter
Mold is an irritant to people in general, but it can be even worse for people with asthma. Keeping mold out of the house as much as possible is necessary for the comfort and health of an asthmatic, so make sure your home is dry and well-ventilated.
If you use anti-mildew or anti-mold sprays, check to see if they’re safe for use near people with asthma. Only use them when the person isn’t within the spray area to be on the safe side.
5. Pollen Poses A Potential Pitfall
Pollen.com says that pollen allergies are another common asthma trigger, so bear that in mind if you have a garden and houseplants. When warm weather hits and the pollen count goes up, an asthmatic’s symptoms can be even worse.
If your loved one hasn’t visited an allergist yet, you may want to suggest it, especially if they have more breathing problems over the summer than in the colder months.
6. Strong Scents Can Trigger Symptoms
Household sprays, colognes, perfumes and other scented products can irritate an asthmatic’s airway, making it harder to breathe. Spray your scents and other scented items away from your loved one, and opt for weaker scents if yours seem to cause them to suffer.
7. Less Stress Is Beneficial
When someone is stressed, it weakens their immune system, leaving them more vulnerable to illness and the symptoms of some conditions, including asthma. An asthmatic may have more trouble breathing during high stress periods, and this effect in turns raises stress levels even more.
If you notice they is experiencing severe symptoms that seem to have come out of nowhere, it could be related to stress. Talk to them to find out what’s going on, as it may help relieve the stress and some of those symptoms.
8. Some Medications Pose A Risk
According to WebMD, many people with asthma have sensitivities to certain medications that can set off an attack. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of all adult asthma sufferers are sensitive to aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
This makes treating headaches and the common cold more difficult. Always check the labels for medication for possible warnings to asthma sufferers, and contact a doctor immediately if the asthmatic person appears to get worse after taking a medicine.
9. Colds And Coughs Are Complicated
Since a person with asthma frequently has an inflamed airway, colds and coughs naturally may make things worse. Encourage them you care about to take care of their body and eat a balanced diet to boost the immune system and ward off illness more easily. Have safe medications on hand to make colds, the ‘flu and other common illness more tolerable.
10. Sulfites Can Be Dangerous
About five to ten percent of asthma sufferers also have a sulfite allergy. These are common additives in many drugs and foods, and they also can occur naturally in some fish and vegetables. The combination of this allergy and asthma can be deadly, causing the airway to close completely.
Encourage your loved one with asthma to be tested for the allergy. If they have it, always make sure you read product labels to avoid accidental ingestion.
11. Severity Varies By Person
Asthma affects each person differently. Some people will have mild symptoms and suffer little, while others will have a severely impacted life. Don’t assume that every asthmatic person has the same exact condition. Respect their limits, and don’t belittle them for those limits or any other requirements related to their health.
12. Symptoms May Change Over Time
The symptoms of asthma differ over time. Sometimes the symptoms are mild, but they can also be debilitating and even fatal at other times. While symptoms do tend to fade with age, do remember that some people develop the condition as adults. Overall, it’s best to always be prepared, even if the symptoms seem to be fading away as they gets older.
13. Sleeping Can Be Disturbed
A person with asthma may wheeze, experience shortness of breath or cough when trying to sleep. This makes sleep difficult and less rejuvenating, since the person isn’t getting as much oxygen as they should.
If your loved one has this problem, they should visit a doctor for a treatment plan. It’s very important to address sleep trouble, as this has been linked to an increased mortality rate and a more severe form of the condition.
14. Exercising Requires Breaks
This should be obvious, but you can’t always expect someone with asthma to keep up with everyone else during a strenuous activity. Even with an active lifestyle, an asthmatic may need more recovery time from exercise or hard labor, and they also might need to take more breaks. Let them work at their own pace, without making them feel inadequate.
15. There’s More Than One Type Of Inhaler
There’s a variety of inhalers available to treat the different types and symptoms of asthma. Giving an asthmatic the wrong inhaler could have serious repercussions, so be mindful of the differences between them all.