Asthma is no joke. But it doesn’t have to keep you from having fun. Read this and you’ll be a pro about taking your medicines and avoiding the stuff that makes you wheeze.
You brush your teeth, get dressed and eat breakfast every day, right? Well, taking care of your asthma should be part of your routine, too. Because that’s part of taking care of yourself. Don’t worry. Taking care of your asthma isn’t that hard. It really just means doing two things:
- Taking your medicine
- Avoiding triggers
If you remember to do those two things, you’ll be an asthma pro. You won’t have to see the doctor as much, and you will avoid trips to the emergency room. If you control your asthma, it won’t control you. You’ll wheeze less, feel better and be able to do more things you want to do.
1. Take your medications
The most important thing to remember is to use your inhalers or other medicines just like the doctor told you to. If you have more severe asthma, you probably use two kinds of asthma medications:
- Rescue medicine, which stops the wheezing. You breathe your rescue inhaler medicine right into the lungs. It “rescues” you by stopping the symptoms so you can breathe easier. You take the rescue inhaler after you start to wheeze. Take it with you wherever you go, to classes, to gym and to after-school activities.
- Controller medicine, which is called that because it’s really powerful. Your controller medicine controls the underlying puffiness and irritation that makes your breathing tubes close up. The controller is great because it prevents asthma attacks. Take the controller every day, even if you’re not wheezing or coughing.
2. Avoid “triggers”
Anything that leads to wheezing, coughing or trouble breathing is called a “trigger.” It’s important to know your triggers. Here’s a list of common triggers and tips to avoid them.
- Allergens. An allergen is gunk in the air that you’re allergic to. It’s something that may make you sneeze as well as wheeze. Almost every kid with asthma is allergic to one or more allergen. They’re everywhere and include things like dust, pollen and pet dander (like animal dandruff). Droppings from cockroaches also make a lot of kids wheeze. To fight allergens:
- Keep your room clean. Dust and get rid of clutter.
- Keep the kitchen clean. Offer to wash the dishes. That keeps the roaches away – and makes your mom smile.
- Wash your sheets once a week. What a way to help your parents – and take care of your asthma!
- Keep your windows closed at night and use the air conditioner in the spring and fall, when pollen is worst.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom.
- Stay out of the basement if it’s damp.
- Irritants. An irritant is anything in the air that irritates your breathing tubes (bronchi). Tell your parents if something you breathe makes you wheeze. Some common irritants are:
- Smoke. Ask people around you not to smoke. Stay away from fireplaces and campfires.
- Outdoor air pollution. Keep windows closed and run the air conditioner on hot, hazy days if you live in the city.
- Hair sprays and perfumes. If they make you wheeze, tell your parents. They won’t buy smelly products anymore.
- Cold and flu viruses. If getting sick makes you wheeze, then try to avoid catching a cold by washing your hands frequently. Stay away from people who are sick. Get a flu shot every fall.
- Cold weather. Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or mask when you’re outdoors in the cold.
If you wheeze during gym class or when you run for the bus, don’t worry! Plenty of Olympic athletes have asthma. You can still run around and have fun and even join a sports team. Just tell your doctor that exercise makes you wheeze. He or she can prescribe a medication you can take before you play that will help. Here are some tips that may help:
- Choose an activity where you can rest, like baseball.
- Try swimming. The warm, moist air around the pool may help.
- Warm up before you play.
- Wear a scarf or mask if you exercise in cold air.