Living With Asthma

Living With Asthma

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    A , Pulmonary Disease, answered
    Can I exercise if I have asthma?

    Most asthma patients can exercise; it's believed that adrenaline released during exercise can help open airways. Watch pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, discuss what to consider before exercising, and the type of asthma that could trigger an attack.

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    A Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of
    Protect your body from extremes in temperature and humidity.

    In cold weather:

    • Dress appropriately. Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to keep your breath warm and moist. You can also wear one of the special masks made
    for people with asthma.

    • Breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth to help warm the air before it reaches your lungs.

    In hot, humid environments:

    • Use air conditioning in your home and in your car.

    • Drink plenty of fluids.
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    Asthma attacks that do not require hospitalization are generally managed with albuterol, a medication that is inhaled and helps the airways to open at the onset of asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing. More severe asthma attacks may require a visit to the hospital for management, which may include additional medications and oxygen.
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    A , Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered
    Yes, you should exercise if you have exercise induced asthma.  You should, however, seek the guidance and/or services of a clinical exercise physiologist who is prepared to design a fitness program with the objective of preventing an asthma attack.

    In fact, there are specific exercise guidelines  set out by the American College of Exercise to follow, with the objective of assessing what exercise intensity upon which the participant experiences an attack of asthma upon exercising.

    According to the ACSM, populations diagnosed with exercise induced asthma, generally experience exacerbations at intensities of 75% of greater of their predicted maximum heart rates.

    Hence, if one exercises at a lower intensity they can realistically avoid an exacerbation.  The participant, however, should learn to self-monitor their own exercise intensity in order to prevent an asthma attack induced throughe exercise.
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    Exercise is good for people with asthma as it helps improve airway function by strengthening the breathing muscles. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology recommends the following activities for people with exercise-induced asthma:

    • Hiking
    • Leisure biking
    • Swimming
    • Walking
    • Team sports that require short bursts of energy including baseball, football, golfing, gymnastics, short-distance track and field events, and wrestling
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    A , Healthcare, answered
    Most experts recommend regular home peak flow monitoring for self-assessment of asthma control because it provides a reliable objective measure of bronchial tube function.

    A variety of inexpensive devices are available for home peak flow monitoring and are essential not only for asthma, but may be useful in the  management of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This peak flow meter measures the rate at which you are able to blow air from your lungs and provides an objective assessment of how well a person is breathing. Most devices function satisfactorily up to one to two years. The device should be regularly cleaned with soap and warm water according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

    With minimum training, most people can master the technique and keep an accurate record. In both normal and asthmatic patients, the peak flow rate is lower in the early morning hours. However, people with poor asthma control exhibit an excessive variation in peak flow rate throughout the course of the day. There may be an exaggerated morning decrease of peak flow rate, and this is a very sensitive indicator of worsening airway inflammation and poor asthma control.

    Simply monitoring the peak flow rate is unlikely to be of any value unless the person has a clear understanding of what to do when this number indicates worsening airflow obstruction. For this purpose, some physicians use three color-coded peak flow rate zones to help management asthma, while others simply require that the person call for help if peak flow rate decreases by 20 percent or more.
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    A answered

    Here are five key steps that should be part of your asthma management plan:

    • Tame your triggers. Along with avoiding your allergy triggers if you have allergies to things like dust, pollens, mold or pet dander, you'll also want to minimize your exposure to potential nonallergic triggers, like cold or dry air, smoke or fumes, stress and anxiety and respiratory infections.
    • Be a tracker. Keeping track of your symptoms, triggers and medications can help determine how well or how poorly your asthma is controlled. You should also keep track of your daily habits and any asthma attacks. Share this information with your doctor at every appointment so he or she can adjust your treatment plan as needed.
    • Know your meds. For the best symptom control, follow your doctor's medication instructions exactly. Report any side effects, but do not stop using your medicine without speaking with your doctor first.
    • Treat yourself right. Taking good overall care of yourself is vital to managing your asthma. Watching your weight, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle, and some of these habits could also help you in controlling your asthma.
    • Be a planner. Do you know what the danger signs are with asthma symptoms? Do you know what to do if your peak flow drops too low? Do you know how often is too often when it comes to the frequency with which you need to use your rescue inhaler? Your asthma management plan should have specific instructions on how to handle these and other special circumstances. If it doesn't, talk with your doctor.

    Taking an active role in your own asthma care is one of the best things you can do for your health. 

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    A , Naturopathic Medicine, answered

    Many studies have indicated that food allergies play an important role in asthma. Double-blind food challenges in children have shown that immediate-onset sensitivities are usually due to, in decreasing order of frequency, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, and peanuts; while foods most commonly associated with delayed-onset reactions include, in decreasing order of frequency, milk, chocolate, wheat, citrus, and food colorings. Although lemons and limes are not common allergens, all citrus can be associated with food allergy in asthma. Elimination diets have been successful in treating asthma, particularly in infants and children.

    Vitally important in the control of asthma is the elimination of food additives. Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5), benzoates, sulfur dioxide, and, in particular, sulfites, have been reported to cause asthma attacks in susceptible individuals. Tartrazine is found in most processed foods and can even be found in vitamin preparations and anti-asthma prescription drugs (e.g., theophylline). And it is estimated that 2 to 3 milligrams of sulfites are consumed each day by the average U.S. citizen, while an additional 5 to 10 milligrams are ingested by wine and beer drinkers.

    Switching to a vegetarian diet may also be of benefit, as a long-term trial of a vegan diet (elimination of all animal products) provided significant improvement in asthma symptoms in 92 percent of the twenty-five treated patients who completed the study (nine dropped out). The researchers also found a reduction in the tendency to develop infections.

    Diets high in antioxidants have also been shown to improve asthma. Vitamin C and other antioxidants are thought to provide important defenses, since oxidizing agents can both stimulate constriction of the bronchi and increase allergic reactions to other agents. Vitamin C inhibits induced bronchial constriction in both normal and asthmatic subjects. Vitamin C appears to normalize fatty acid metabolism and reduce histamine production. Carotenes (especially lycopene), vitamin E, and selenium are also important. Vitamin C is found in peppers, berries, citrus fruit, kiwis, and green vegetables from the cabbage family. These green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables are high in carotenoids. And wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, and grains are high in vitamin E.

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    Keeping Active with Asthma
    Don't let it bring you down! Find out how to keep an active lifestyle while living with asthma.

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    A , Pulmonary Disease, answered
    How do I know my asthma is under control?

    There are two ways to measure if asthma is under control: the number of symptoms a patient has, and the measurement of airflow limitation. Watch as pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, discusses how to know if your asthma is being controlled properly.

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