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Asthma prevention

Part of living with asthma is learning how to help prevent symptoms, avoid triggers and help to keep the condition well managed.

Identify triggers for asthma prevention

Certain asthma triggers can set off the cascade of asthma symptoms. These causes of asthma might include dust mites, air pollution, cold air, a cold virus, sinusitis, cigarette smoke, and fragrances, among others. It is vital to learn to identify your triggers.

Keep track of your asthma symptoms for several weeks, detailing all the environmental and emotional factors that are associated with your asthma. When you have an asthma attack, go back to your asthma diary to see which factor, or combination of factors, might have contributed to it. Some common asthma triggers are not always obvious, such as moulds and cockroaches. Ask your asthma doctor about allergy skin testing or IgE blood testing to determine which allergens you have become sensitised to. You can then take measures to minimise your exposure to those allergens.

If you have exercise-induced asthma or are planning vigorous exercise or exercise in cold, humid, or dry environments, prevent exercise-induced asthma by following your doctor's advice on asthma treatment - usually with an asthma inhaler containing the asthma drug salbutamol.

Take steps for asthma prevention with allergies

If you have allergies and asthma, it is important to take asthma prevention steps at home. Asthma attacks - worsening of asthma symptoms - can be triggered by allergies, which can temporarily increase the inflammation of the airways in a susceptible person. Avoiding or minimising contact with the substance you are allergic to will help prevent an asthma attack.

Smoke and asthma are a bad mix. Minimise exposure to all sources of smoke, including tobacco, incense, candles, fires, and fireworks. Do not allow smoking in your home or car, and avoid public places that permit smoking. If you smoke cigarettes, get help to quit. Smoking invariably makes asthma worse.

In addition, avoid close contact with people who have a cold or flu since your asthma symptoms may worsen if you catch the infection from them. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching items that may have been handled by others with a respiratory infection.

Allergy-proof your environment for asthma prevention

Whether you are at home, work, or travelling, there are specific measures you can take to allergy-proof your environment and reduce the risk of having asthma symptoms. For example, try to avoid places that are smoky or allow cigarette smoking - a known trigger of asthma. Call ahead when travelling and ask for a smoke-free hotel room. Bring your own bedding and pillows in case the hotel only supplies feather pillows and down duvets, which may harbour dust mites and cause asthma symptoms.

Get a flu vaccine for asthma attack prevention

Get a flu vaccination every year to protect against the flu virus, which almost always makes asthma much worse for days to weeks. People with asthma are more likely to have complications from flu, such as pneumonia, and are more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu. Also get a pneumonia vaccination. People with asthma are about twice as likely as other people to get pneumococcal pneumonia, a common type of bacterial pneumonia.

Consider allergy injections (immunotherapy) for asthma prevention

If your doctor finds that you have allergies, allergy injections ( immunotherapy) for asthma may help prevent future allergies and asthma. With allergy injections, small doses of allergens (substances to which you are allergic) are injected under your skin on a regular basis. Over a period of time, your body may become accustomed to the allergen and less responsive with asthma symptoms.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 21, 2017

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