According to the CDC, nearly 13 million American women have some form of asthma, and about half of those have an allergic form which can be triggered by known allergens. Not everybody has the same allergic asthma triggers, but it’s common for asthma to be caused by cigarette smoke, mold, pollen and pet dander. The bad news is that it’s not always possible to prevent an asthma attack, but you can do a lot to reduce your risk and manage the situation, once an attack arrives.
Find Out What Your Triggers Are
Most women who suffer from asthma assume that it is just a genetic thing, or a disease that is internal to their body, not caused by the environment. But a surprising number of people, as discussed, have triggered. Albert Rizzo is a medical doctor and a senior pulmonary and critical care adviser to a major national health body. He points out that women can get tested to see whether they have an allergy that’s causing their asthma. They can take blood and skin tests, he says, which provide a quick and easy to find out whether there are any environmental factors behind their asthma attacks.
Women should also keep a journal of where they were when they started to feel wheezy, or when they last had an attack. This will help them narrow down the list of allergens that could be triggering their symptoms. Rizzo says that once women know what it is in the environment that is affecting them, they have a far greater capacity to prevent attacks from happening in the future.
Check For Dust Mites
According to the AAAAI (the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology), dust mites are the biggest cause of asthma attacks in the US. Dust mites infiltrate all your linen, but they’re particularly found in the bedroom, including in your mattresses and pillows. There are ways, however, that women can fight back. One way is to buy “dust proof” zippered covers that prevent mites from traveling in and out of your sheets. Another thing that you can do is make sure that you wash your sheets at least once per week using hot water. Setting your dryer on high can also help kill any dust mites left in your bedding.
There’s also some scope here to upgrade your decor, all in the name of reducing your potential exposure to allergens. Hard floors, like wood and tiles, are better than carpets, as there are fewer places that dust mites can live. And finally, cuddly toys are a big no-no, no matter how much you or your kids love them.
Your Pet Might Be Giving You Problems
There’s no doubt that your pet pooch is adorable, but could it be causing your attacks while staring up at your with its loving eyes. According to the CDC, the dander produced by pets is a huge allergen and something that can easily trigger an attack. Rizzo says that even cats and dogs that don’t have lots of fur can cause an attack, and so he recommends that you remove them from your home. You can find a list of hypoallergenic cat breeds provided by our friends at CatOverdose.com. Locking pets out of the bedroom isn’t usually enough since the problematic particles that they emit are so small, they can travel into the bedroom whenever the door is opened. Plus, you’ll come into contact with them anyway when you’re walking around the house.
The problem, Rizzo says, is the protein contained in their dander, urine, and saliva. These bodily fluids can easily get on your clothes, your furniture, and even your drapes. When you come into contact with these proteins, it triggers an allergic cascade in the body, and then asthma attacks start. If you can’t bear to get rid of your pet, Rizzo suggests that pet owners do what they can to reduce the number of places where pet allergens can hide. This includes doing things like using blinds instead of curtains and buying furniture that isn’t covered in fabric so that it can be cleaned easily.
Don’t Use The Emergency Room
When people have a severe asthma attack, sometimes their only option is to use the emergency room. But thanks to high prices and long wait times, this is usually an ineffective way to deal with the problem. That’s why so many patients are looking for alternatives, like the services provided at Our Urgent Care. The idea here is to provide asthma sufferers with care, support and medical attention out of hours when their regular doctor might not be available. It’s also being touted as a way to get care quickly and avoid having to use the medical room. Knowing that you’ve got somebody on hand to help you during an asthma attack is important, especially if you want peace of mind and to avoid panicking.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
One of the biggest issues that healthcare professionals see regarding asthma is the fact that patients aren’t doing what they’re supposed to when it comes to their medication. Most asthma sufferers use two types of drugs. One is a long-term drug, designed to suppress the likelihood of an asthma attack occurring in general and the other is a short-term drug, designed to deal immediately with symptoms. Rizzo says that asthma sufferers should keep their short term inhaler with them at all times. He says that it can hopefully prevent attacks. He also says that patients need to take their long-term medication according to their doctor’s instructions, even if they feel fine. By taking long term drugs as directed, he says, patients are a lot less likely to have to use short term relief.
Build An Asthma Plan
Asthma sufferers need to work with their doctors to work out exactly what they need to do, should they have an attack. It’s a good idea to write a plan down and then review it when you see your doctor. Rizzo says that often the action plan doesn’t need modifications because patients are feeling well. But sometimes, if asthma is interfering with regular activities, it’s a good idea to review it.