How to prevent asthma?
Avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants can substantially reduce asthma symptoms. There are a number of ways to cut down exposure to the common allergens and irritants that provoke asthmatic attacks, or to avoid them altogether. The most common indoor allergens are house dust mites, feathers, cockroaches, and animal dander. Anything that can be done to reduce exposure to these allergens may reduce the number or severity of attacks. Exposure to house dust mites can be
reduced by removing wall-to-wall carpets and using air conditioning to keep the relative humidity low (preferably below 50%) in the summer. Also, special pillow and mattress covers can help reduce exposure to these dust mites. Cats and dogs must be removed to significantly decrease animal dander.
Irritating fumes such as cigarette smoke should also be avoided. In some people with asthma, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs trigger attacks. Tartrazine, a yellow coloring used in some drug tablets and food, may also bring on an attack. Sulfites—commonly added to foods as a preservative—may trigger attacks after a susceptible person eats a certain food or drinks beer or red wine.
For outdoor activity in cold weather, the person with asthma can wear a ski mask or scarf that covers the nose and mouth to help keep the air being breathed in warm and moist. Camping and hiking trips should not be scheduled during times of high pollen count (in the Northern states, May and June for grass pollen and mid-August to October for ragweed). Patients who are allergic to mold should avoid barns, hay, raking leaves, and mowing grass. Exposure to automobile fumes may worsen asthma. Fungi in car air conditioners can also be a problem.
People with asthma should try to minimize their risk for respiratory tract infections. Washing hands is a very simple but effective preventive measure. There has been some question concerning influenza vaccinations because of some reports that vaccines may worsen asthma. Recent and major studies have been reporting, however, that the vaccination is safe for adults and children. It is also very important for patients to reduce their risk for respiratory diseases. Still, 90% of asthma patients remain unvaccinated. Asthma patients should ask their physicians about the flu vaccine and also whether they should receive the vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia.
Some evidence indicates that having low dietary intake of antioxidant nutrients (vitamins A, C, and E, selenium and other food chemicals) could increase the risk for lung damage. Taking supplements does not appear to have any effective. Such nutrients are best obtained from fresh, deep green and yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, which contain other chemicals that might be lung protective. In one study, people who consumed selenium-rich foods (fish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, and garlic) had a lower risk for asthma. In the same study, eating apples was also associated with protection.
Periodic assessments and ongoing monitoring of asthma are essential to determine if therapy is adequate. Patients need to understand how to use a peak flow meter and understand the symptoms and signs of an asthma exacerbation. Regular follow-up visits (at least every six months) are important to maintain asthma control and to reassess medication requirements. Patients with persistent asthma should be given an annual influenza vaccine.
More information on asthma
What is asthma? - Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest.
What types of asthma are there? - Types of asthma include child-onset asthma, adult-onset asthma, exercise-induced asthma, cough-variant asthma, occupational asthma, nocturnal asthma.
What's bronchial asthma? - Bronchial asthma is a disease of the lungs in which an obstructive ventilation disturbance of the respiratory passages evokes a feeling of shortness of breath.
What is exercise-induced asthma? - Exercise-induced asthma is a form of asthma that some people have during or after physical activity. Exercise-induced asthma is common.
What is adult-onset asthma? - Adult onset asthma generally is the onset of asthma for the first time in someone of middle age or older. Adult-onset asthma develops after age 20.
What is status asthmaticus? - Status asthmaticus is a severe asthma episode that does not respond to standard treatment. Status asthmaticus is caused by severe bronchospasm.
What causes asthma? - Asthma is caused by inhaling an allergen that sets off the chain of biochemical and tissue changes leading to airway inflammation, bronchoconstriction, and wheezing.
What're the asthma triggers? - Many risk factors have been linked to triggering asthma attacks. There are two basic types of asthma triggers, allergic triggers, non-allergic triggers.
Asthma and allergy - Asthma attacks (worsening of asthma symptoms) can be triggered by allergies. Allergy is the leading cause of asthma.
What is an asthma attack? - An asthma attack occurs when the small and medium-sized airways become inflamed and constricted after being exposed to a trigger.
Asthma in children - Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood. Asthma symptoms can interfere with many school activities for children.
Asthma and pregnancy - During pregnancy, asthma or asthma episodes will become worse for an estimated one-third of pregnant women, particularly women who have severe asthma.
Asthma in adults and older people - Identifying asthma in the elderly can be difficult because asthma symptoms can be confused with symptoms of heart or lung diseases.
What're the complications of asthma? - Uncontrolled asthma in pregnant women puts them at higher risk for complications that can include early labor, hypertension, gestational diabetes.
What are the symptoms of asthma? - The symptoms of asthma include labored breathing, constriction of the chest, coughing and gasping usually brought on by allergies.
What're the warning signs of asthma? - Most people with asthma have warning signs before symptoms appear. There are many warning signs of an asthma episode.
How is asthma diagnosed? - The diagnosis of asthma is made on the basis of typical symptoms and signs. Positive allergy tests support a diagnosis of asthma.
What're the treatments for asthma? - Treatment of asthma is aimed at avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants and controlling symptoms and airway inflammation through medication.
What quick relief (rescue) medications cure asthma? - Short-acting beta-agonists are the most commonly used asthma rescue medications. Anticholinergics are another class of asthma drugs.
Long-term asthma control medications - Combinations of steroids and other medications are effective for both treating and preventing asthma attacks in patients with moderate to severe asthma.
What're asthma inhalers? - Most asthma drugs are inhaled using special devices or nebulizers. Two common types include dry powder asthma inhalers and metered-dose asthma inhalers.
What're asthma nebulizers? - Asthma nebulizers can be used with all classes of inhaled medications but are most commonly used with short-acting beta2 agonists and ipratropium bromide.
How to control acute asthma attacks? - Acute asthma is an acute exacerbation of wheezing, unresponsive to usually effective therapy and necessitating care in an emergency room or hospital ward.
How to manage chronic asthma symptoms? - The aims of management are to recognize asthma, to abolish symptoms, to restore normal or best possible long term airway function.
What asthma relievers are available? - Asthma reliever is a drug that provides relief from asthma symptoms and is the most commonly used asthma medication.
What asthma preventers are available? - Asthma preventers are to be used twice a day regardless of whether your child has symptoms of asthma.
What's the treatment for childhood asthma? - The goals of asthma therapy are to prevent child from having chronic and troublesome symptoms, to maintain child's lung function.
What's the treatment for asthma in the elderly? - Diagnosis and treatment of asthma can be more complicated in people age 65 and older than in those who are younger.
What can be done to prevent asthma? - Avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants can reduce asthma symptoms. People with asthma should minimize risk for respiratory tract infections.