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What Should I Do?

What Should I Do?

I hear this quite a bit when I help families with their asthma. They want me to tell them what to do.

But I can't.

I tell the families that they need to listen to their lungs. Your lungs are like a barometer. Just like how a barometer will measure the weather, your lungs are a measure of your asthma. They will definitely let you know how they feel!

It's important to listen to your body and your lungs. Are you coughing? Wheezing? Shortness of breath? Is your chest tight? Those are symptoms of an asthma attack.

Identifying your triggers

If your lungs are sending out any signals like that, you need to stop and think. What was I around? You have to act like a detective to try to figure out what is bothering your lungs. You can start to ask yourself:

  • Is there a lot of pollution today?
  • Was I around any animals?
  • Was I outside and by grass, trees, flowers, bushes?
  • Is it too hot today? Too cold?
  • Is someone wearing strong perfume?
  • Can I smell scented candles or incense?
  • Am I stressed out or emotional?
  • Do I have acid reflux?

These are some of the many asthma triggers that can bother the lungs. And what may bother me may not bother the families I work with, and vice versa.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, one family I work with wanted to know about laundry soap. They asked me what they should use. They said they used a certain brand that has a very strong scent. I asked if it bothered them, and they said no. Great! I’m glad they found something that they like.

I know that I can’t use the brand they use. In fact, that brand of laundry soap is so strong that I can smell it on people when they are at work. For me, it would be an asthma trigger, but for them, they are okay.

Just another example of knowing your body and listening to it. Know what’s right for YOU. It’s okay to ask people for advice, but your asthma triggers may be different from theirs.

Playing detective with your asthma triggers

With asthma, it can be trial and error. You will find out what your lungs like and don’t like.

Sometimes I'll start sneezing and then coughing. And I'll stop and think like a detective, "What just happened? What was I around?" I'll notice someone with a strong perfume. Or realize that the person I'm visiting has dogs or cats. Sometimes I can't figure out what triggered an asthma attack. Maybe the shelves were dusty at the store?

Some people will keep a written journal of their symptoms, while other people may record their symptoms in the notes section of their phone. That can help them figure out when they had an asthma attack and what they were around before that. It can help them figure out what is bothering them.

Keep in mind that your asthma can change over time. What may not bother you today can bother you tomorrow. It can be quite a surprise!

I can remember having to rush out into the lobby during my daughter's dance recital because someone was wearing strong perfume. I was coughing and fumbling for my inhaler, but my husband wasn't bothered by it at all. Just like that, I developed a new asthma trigger (and missed my daughter's performance!)

So, feel free to talk to your friends about asthma and compare notes. But know your body and your triggers. Become an expert on YOU!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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