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Living with asthma could be debilitating for many as the symptoms can wax and wane if the condition is not managed effectively. This chronic condition sets off a wheezing and coughing episode each time a trigger irritates the sensitive airways, but it can still be managed effectively says experts and doctors. However, educating the patients about the condition is paramount. Since without proper knowledge, prevention may not work. So, Dr. Ashok mahashur, consultant chest physician, p d hinduja hospital and research centre, mumbai debunks some myths on asthma and offers some practical tips to handle the condition better. Here goes the list:
1. Asthma is controllable but not curable:
This isn’t news for anyone. But the many times you hear that asthma is not curable it hits you hard. Particularly for people who are chronic sufferers. But the silver lining is that it is manageable. But most people fail to control the symptoms because management calls for too much effort. However, if one tries to keep the symptoms at bay, it isn’t a difficult task. Proper lifestyle changes, medications and watching over the triggers can help one go into remission. This is not to say that the symptoms will never recur, but one can control the severity and manage it well at the time of an attack. Here are 10 things to avoid to prevent asthma attack.
If one is diagnosed with asthma during childhood and taught how to manage the condition with corrective lifestyle habits and medications, he can keep the symptoms in check even in adulthood. One can overcome the condition in adulthood, provided they have controlled the condition well since childhood. Here are eight steps to manage childhood asthma.
2. Inhalers are the most effective way of controlling asthma:
Apart from lifestyle changes, which means keeping the triggers at bay, drugs are the mainstay of treating asthma effectively. There are oral medications and inhalers to manage the symptoms of the condition. However, inhalers are more efficient in treating and controlling the symptoms. While oral medications do their job well, inhalers have a direct effect on the airways and the lungs which act quickly to reduce the symptoms during an attack. For instance, how eye drops are most effective in treating conjunctivitis over oral medications the same holds true for inhalers and asthma. Here is a guide to choose the best inhaler for asthma.
3. Of the inhalers, controllers are better than relievers:
There are two types of inhalers one group is called controller, and other is the reliever. As the names suggest, the controllers control the condition and relievers give symptom relief during an attack. The relievers give instant relief while the effect of controllers is not immediate. A reason why most asthmatics swear by relievers, however, long time use of relievers doesn’t help to control the disease and so one becomes dependent on them. But if one uses controllers it helps in the long run to manage asthma.
The reason people avoid using controllers is that it contains steroids and people are wary about its side effects. However, the impact of the side effects is very less compared to the benefits it offers. If the controllers are taken regularly, and the lung functions are monitored time-to-time the dosages can also be lowered over a period of time. Know what is best for you dry inhalers or metered dose inhalers.
4. Supplements or natural therapies cannot cure asthma:
While many people believe that natural remedies and oral supplements can cure asthma, the fact remains that the condition can only be controlled and not cured. Read to know if natural remedies for asthma really work.
5. Running isn’t advisable for asthmatics:
It is necessary for asthmatics to stay healthy and exercise as it boosts immunity. However, running isn’t advisable for them. The simple reason being it can trigger an attack. Instead, other cardio exercises like swimming, cycling can help rev up their sensitive airways.
Remember asthmatics have sensitive and hyper-reactive airways and the triggers can make the symptoms worse. Certain triggers aggravate them. The most common are dust, dust mites in old cotton clothes, cockroaches, smoke, pollen (if there is lot of greenery around), pets, foods with preservatives like msg, sour or citrus foods. Even some of the healthy things can turn to be triggers for them.
6. Humid climate might not always favour asthmatics:
Most people believe that hot and humid climate might suit people suffering from asthma. However, this is not true for everyone. The triggers are not the same for everyone. For some the symptoms might be in check in a humid area for others, it might aggravate. However, one can experiment with the different climatic conditions to see what suits one. Non-fluctuating weather is better for most of them.
7. Lifestyle changes are as important as following the right medication:
Drugs are the mainstay when it comes to asthma management; however, lifestyle also plays an important role. A disciplinary diet pattern also matters. A lot of people have two heavy meals a day instead of six small meals that could lead to acid reflux. A late night dinner for asthmatics is perilous. Having a full-plate and going to bed immediately can trigger the reflux which in turn can trigger the symptoms at mid-night and can make it worse.