10 Biggest Mistakes Asthmatics Make

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10 Biggest Mistakes Astmatics Make

Asthma Mistakes. Getty Images Stuartbur

We all make mistakes with our asthma. It may be that we do not always make the best judgements or we may not know what exactly we need to do. Learn from these 10 common asthma mistakes I see people make.

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Not Having An Asthma Action Plan

Asthma Action Plan. From NIH Publication No. 07-5251

An asthma action plan is the most important tool that will help you achieve excellent asthma control and not let asthma impact your daily activities. Failure to implement your action plan will lead to problems with:

Your asthma action plan is your treatment road map. It guides your entire treatment plan from trigger avoidance and maintenance therapy to what to do as symptoms worsen.
The main benefits of an asthma action plan are:

  • Improved asthma control.
  • Fewer asthma symptoms.
  • Fewer visits to the emergency department or hospital for treatment.

If you do not have an asthma action plan, you need to talk with your doctor about developing one. If you have one you need to make sure you review it periodically to ensure it is up to date.

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Letting Your Pet Sleep With You

Sleeping With Your Pet
Sleeping With Your Pet. Getty Images

While cute and cuddly, allowing pets to sleep with you can create many problems for your asthma. You spend a significant portion of your life in the bedroom. Pets carry a whole host of allergens including dust, pollen, and molds around on their bodies and may deposit them in your bed. By allowing a pet to spend significant time in your bedroom or in your bed, you a functionally increasing your allergen exposure.

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Getting a Hypoallergenic Pet

port-water-dog.jpg
Portuguese Water Dog. Henry Horenstein/The Image Blank/Getty Images

Some pet lovers advocate for a hypoallergenic pet– although I consider hypoallergenic pets to be more of a myth. All pets shed dander (proteins from skin flakes, urine, feces, and saliva from your pet that trigger the pathophysiology of asthma) – although some shed less than others

While I think it’s best to not have pets at all if you have trouble with asthma control, restricting a pet to outside only or barring them from areas where you spend a lot of time is an option I have seen some families use with success. Allergy shots are sometimes needed if you cannot work restriction and asthma symptoms do not improve.

If you do not yet have a pet consider any of the following that, while often not cute and cuddly, do not worsen allergies:

  • Fish
  • Hermit crabs
  • Snakes
  • Turtles

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Stopping Or Not Taking Medications Regularly

Child with asthma rescue inhaler. Joshua Davidson, MD, MPH, Inc.

In order for your asthma medications to work, you need to take them. However, some patients being to feel better and then fail to take their controller medications. Despite your improved symptoms, your asthma never really goes away and wheezing, chest tightness, cough and shortness of breath will not be far behind if you just stop your meds.

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Ignoring Asthma Symptoms

Booster Shot Comics
Iggy the Inhaler. Booster Shot Comics

I sometimes see patients ignoring their asthma symptoms and their asthma action plan. Often patients will either just feel better and think they no longer need asthma meds or they simply no longer want to take medication for their chronic illness. Neither is a good plan.

Monitoring your asthma is the only way to make sure your asthma control is where it should be. Review your asthma action plan at least yearly and more often if your asthma is poorly controlled.

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Leaving Windows Open

Sleeping With Windo Open
Sleeping With Windo Open. Getty Images- Robert Warren The Image Bank

Keeping windows closed will decrease your pollen exposure. Additionally, the recirculate feature on your air conditioner system also cuts down on the amount of external allergens entering your home.

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Ignoring Pollen Counts

Asthma and Allergy
Photo credit: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Where I live in Louisiana, pollen counts seem to always be high during certain times of the year, so they can be difficult to avoid. However, weather and radio stations often report whether it is going to be a high or low pollen count day. When pollen counts are high staying indoors may be your best bet. You can check out a number of resources to check on pollen counts.

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Spending Time Outdoors At The Wrong Time

Extreme Weather Asthma
Extreme Weather Asthma. Ethan Miller Asthma

Knowing a little bit about how weather effects your asthma can help you decide when the best time to go outside is. If hot, humid air leads to inflammation in your lungs, then spending time in the early morning may be better for you. Likewise, if extreme cold makes your asthma worse you may want to plan for more indoor activities.

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Too Much Clutter

Photo © Flickr user mapglobin

Clutter and dust are synonymous. The more stuff you have sitting around the house or on open surfaces, the more dust that gets collected. Decluttering and frequent cleaning are the best method of avoidance.

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Using Alternative Treatments

© Getty Images. © Getty Images

Alternative and complementary asthma treatments are not bad per se. However, these treatments should almost always be used in addition to your traditional medical regimen and you need to make sure you discuss with your doctor before initiating.

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What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

Good Health
Good Health.

We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help.
 You are probably not the only one with the problem. Take a few minutes describing your problem so we can develop a solution together.

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Learn More About Your Asthma

Feel free to email me email me with any questions or problems.

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Sources

PAT F. BASS III, MD, MS, MPH
PAT F. BASS III, MD, MS, MPH. PAT F. BASS III, MD, MS, MPH

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma Accessed on May 23, 2015.

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