In this blog we will see bronchial asthma and its management aspect of the disease with asthma prevention tips. Winter months for many bronchial asthma patients is the rough time of the year, as well as for some asthma patients the spring and or fall is a tough time. A few helpful tips may help understand the asthma disease process, understanding your asthma symptoms; plan the asthma care to prevent exacerbation of asthma symptoms.
1. Update Doctor Visit: Have a Doctor visit if not done recently this fall, especially if you have moderate to severe bronchial asthma. Get checked by your physician if not done recently to adjust your inhalers, nebulizers and medications, flu vaccination and follow the recommendations of your physician. Make sure you have enough refills on your medication.
2. Emergency Prescription: Have a prescription of antibiotic and steroid handy if you have severe persistent bronchial asthma. Based on the severity of underlying asthma, it may be good to have a prescription of an antibiotic and prednisone handy especially if you have an exacerbation of symptoms on the holiday or weekend and doctor may not be available right away. In mild cases discuss such plan with your doctor for medication to be called in to the pharmacy.
3. Know your medication: Understand your medications, read about the inhalers you are taking. Know the normal dose, frequency and maximum dose allowed in 24 hours. Know the precautions which need to be taken, like with inhaled steroids, the need to rinse the mouth after use. Understand the side effects of the medication. This is a key of asthma management. Report side effects if you get to your health care provider. Know your treatments of asthma that you are getting from your health care provider. Similarly the treatments for asthma that you have received before. With this understanding will help you understand your disease process. Example once you needed the tapering steroids when you were sick was given for your asthma exacerbation. If you are taking long acting bronchodilator with the inhaled steroids and it is the ongoing treatment for your asthma to control asthma symptoms.
4. Peak flow meter: Get a pick flow meter if you don’t have and do peak flow meter reading and keep a log of your peek flow. If there is a change in your peek flows inform your health care provider. Many peak flow meters will have green, yellow and red zone and keep track of it. With the change in the zone or change in peak flow by more than 100 inform your physician.
5. Simple Precautions to take: Wash your hands frequently; this will prevent germs from passing from one person to another person. Stay away from sick people. If you know someone is sick avoid contact with them as much as possible, as this will prevent exposure and exacerbation of the symptoms. Cover your face when coughing. This prevents germs being spread through the air and other people being exposed if you are sick.
6. Urgent treatment for bronchial asthma: Get urgently treated with the onset of cold symptom, bronchitis, early pneumonia symptoms. Know your asthma symptoms and especially if someone in the family feels that it has changed don’t ignore it. It needs to be controlled. If you get cold or respiratory symptoms contact your doctor to see if an antibiotic is needed or whether a change of inhalers may be needed would be adequate or if there is a need for steroids. See plan #2 and discuss with your doctor before you get sick.
7. Bronchial Asthma education. Learn about the disease, exacerbation factors, and prevention and how to control. Get familiar with asthma symptoms. Night time cough is a very common symptom of asthma not under control or its onset is a good of worsening asthma clue which most people don’t think. They think of wheezing which comes later and cough is a common symptom of asthma. Need for night time use of the inhaler means that the asthma symptoms are not under control. Post nasal drip and the GERD are two other exacerbation factors of asthma that one needs to look into if it starts suddenly. Smoking cessation if one is smoking is a key for asthma control. There are no specific cures for asthma but good education and understanding the disease and how to adjust medication, drugs, exercise, few foods to avoid, good life style, good sleep and relaxation, Yoga and Pranayama may work for many to control the asthma and allergy symptoms under control.
8. Bronchial asthma and food: Learn about the food that causes the bronchospasm, increase mucus production, increase post nasal drip or sinus congestion or sinus headaches etc. Few foods to avoid is cold water or ice water or cold drinks or ice drinks or anything that is cold and not at room temperature as it produces slow bronchospasm and increase mucus formation and slows the digestion. Unfortunately chocolate which tastes so good is not good for asthma it increases bronchospasm. Foods like banana, milk products, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant etc. increase mucus formation. Avoid them if possible.
9. Plan the emergency care: Think what you or your family will do if your asthma flares up? Make a plan now. What if the flare up is mild will you call your doctor and be seen? If it is moderate then will you go to the Emergency room to get treated right away? What if you cannot breath will you call 911? Who will call 911? Who will inform EMS or emergency medical service personal about the medical condition and the medication that you are taking. Plan the care and take care of asthma. By this there is no last minute panic in the family.
10. Learn Ayurveda and or other alternative medical prevention options: Prevention is better than the cure is the old say in English. Many asthma patients are looking for a prevention aspect and cannot find that works. Ayurveda is the science of healthy living and is the traditional Indian medical science. Ayurveda is oldest medical science which has documented the asthma and its causes and prevention and treatment. Bronchial asthma is a long term disease for many people. If one is interested by slowly learning natural ways to control it may decrease long term use of medication and side effects of the drugs and improve quality of life. Use the medicines and inhalers under guidance of the doctor but as asthma improves the dose could be decreased or minimized or discontinued gradually. Or only need for the rescue inhaler is needed. One should know that if more than 2 albuterol inhaler canisters use in one calendar year means that asthma is not under control. Make a short term and long term plan for asthma improvement. By understanding your own body your mind and emotion is a key to improve health and Ayurveda helps to provide this insight. Learn your body type, imbalance of the energy in the body, toxin built up, body type food, all this are referenced in Ayurveda. What we eat is what we are is the old say and it is true. As food has effect on our health and so is the effect on asthma symptoms. Ayurveda has a great insight for prevention of asthma. If one is interested in learning more than one may learn appropriate Ayurveda diet based on the one’s Prakruti ( genetics) and Vikruti ( imbalance or toxins in the body). Good book to start is Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha Lad, Vasant Lad.
Coordinate care with your physician and do regular follow up. No asthma care improves without multimodalities management like medication, inhalers, diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, social support, and off course good guidance and monitoring of health care professional. Good luck and best wishes…