What to do if you have asthma
You can control your asthma so that it does not bother you or make you sick. By following these steps, you can lead a healthy, active, life
Get help from your health care professional
- Take your medicines as your health care professional suggests
- Watch for signs that your asthma is getting worse and act quickly to stop the attack - your provider can teach you what to do to stop an attack
- Stay away from things that trigger your asthma
- Ask your health care professional any questions you have about your asthma
- See your health care professional at least every 6 months or whatever he or she suggests
- Work with your health care professional to have an asthma action plan. Review the plan with him or her at least once a year.
If you don't have a healthcare professional, Public Health provides affordable healthcare in Public Health Centers throughout King County. If you don't have medical insurance, find out if you qualify for low-cost health insurance. For a referral to a clinic near you or for more information, call (toll-free) the Community Health Access Program (CHAP) at 1-800-756-5437.
Reduce your triggers (things that make your asthma worse)
There are many things you can do to avoid your asthma triggers. First, learn what triggers your asthma. When your asthma symptoms start, ask yourself what happened that might have started it.
If cigarette smoke is a trigger for you and you smoke:
- Quit. Smoking cigarettes will make your asthma worse.
- Quit. If you have children, your smoking will make their asthma worse.
- Quit. Pregnant women who smoke have a greater risk of having a child with asthma.
- Quit. Resources to help you stop smoking.
If cigarette smoke is a trigger for you and you don't smoke:
- Stay away from tobacco smoke as much as you can.
- Ask that people not smoke in your house or in your car.
If wood smoke is a trigger:
- Avoid using a fireplace as a heat source if possible
- Try to limit your activities outside and keep your asthma medicine with you during a burn ban. Find out about burn bans in the Pacific Northwest.
If air pollution is a trigger:
- Learn about local air quality alerts. These alerts are on local TV news reports, newspapers, and radio.
- When air quality is poor you may want to limit your outside activities. Make sure you keep your asthma medicine with you.
If dust or mold is a trigger:
- Cover mattresses and pillows with allergen-proof zippered covers
- Replace carpet (if possible) with linoleum, tile or wood because carpets collect dust
- Reduce the dampness (humidity) in your house. Mold can be a special problem in damp weather. It is easiest to reduce humidity by opening windows, making sure that steam from cooking and running hot water (bath, shower, laundry) does not travel through the house. It is not usually necessary to buy a dehumidifier - a machine that takes dampness out of the air. If you decide to use a dehumidifier, clean it every day so mold does not grow in the dehumidifier.
If perfumes or cleaning products are a trigger:
- If your asthma is triggered by strong smells, like perfume, avoid areas where people are wearing perfume or move to areas with increased ventilation.
- Some commercial cleaning products that you purchase at the store have chemicals and scents that can trigger an asthma attack.
- "Green cleaning" means using cleaning products that don't have these triggers. Learn recipes for making green cleaning solutions that are safe for you and the environment and are low cost.
If pet dander is a trigger:
- If your asthma is triggered by cats or dogs, ask the pet owner to move the animals to a different room prior to visiting their home and remove cat or dog hair from furniture.
- Find out more ways you can stay away from things that can make your asthma worse.
People with asthma benefit from regular physical activity just like people who don't have asthma. Going for a walk, riding a bike, dancing, or working in your yard or garden are all types of healthy physical activity.
If physical activity is one of your asthma triggers, it's important to follow your health care provider's instructions so your asthma doesn't bother you when you are active. Always make sure to check with your healthcare provider before you start any new kind of physical activity.