General Guidelines for Managing Asthma

Making some lifestyle changes can help you avoid triggers that may cause an asthma attack.

  • Reduce your exposure to allergens that trigger asthma.
  • Pay attention to warning signs when they occur.
  • Treat symptoms early.
  • Ask your doctor about physical activity.
  • Get a yearly flu shot.
  • Reduce Your Exposure to Allergens That Trigger Asthma

    Because there are many types of allergens that may trigger asthma, it is nearly impossible to completely remove all allergens from your environment. However, there are many things that you can do to help reduce allergens and your exposure to asthma triggers.

    The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers these suggestions:

  • Take these steps to control dust mites:     
  • Wash bedding once a week in hot water. Water must be hotter than 130 degrees F (60 degrees C) to kill dust mites.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof, zippered covers.
  • Avoid cloth-covered cushions.
  • If your pillow does not have a dust proof cover, wash your pillow each week in hot water.
  • Reduce indoor humidity below 60%. Dehumidifiers and central air conditioners can help.
  • If possible, remove carpets from your bedroom.
  • If stuffed toys are in the house, keep them off your bed. Wash stuffed toys weekly in hot water.
  • Take these steps if you are allergic to pets:     
  • If possible, keep pets out of your home.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and other sleeping areas at all times, and keep the door closed.
  • Keep pets away from fabric-covered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys. If possible, remove carpet from your home.
  • Take these steps to control cockroaches and mice in your home:     
  • Do not leave out food. Store food in airtight containers.
  • Make sure trash in your home is properly stored in containers with lids that close securely. Remove trash daily.
  • Try using poison baits, boric acid, or traps before using pesticide sprays.
  • Do not stay in a room that has recently been sprayed with a pesticide. Wait until the odor has cleared before going back to the room.
  • Take these steps to control mold:     
  • Fix plumbing leaks and other moisture problems.
  • Use a bleach cleaner to wash mold off hard surfaces. Let the surface dry completely.
  • Take these steps to avoid irritants:     
  • Avoid using strong-smelling products, like perfume, paint, or powders.
  • Avoid wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or kerosene heaters.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. Avoid being around people who smoke. Do not allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Ask someone to vacuum for you. Stay out of the room after it is vacuumed. If you vacuum:     
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or microfilter bag.
  • Wear a dust mask.
  • Take these steps to control asthma due to allergies to pollen and outdoor mold:     
  • Try to keep windows closed during allergy season.
  • Pollen and some mold counts can be highest in late morning to afternoon. Stay indoors and keep windows closed during this time when possible.
  • Talk to your doctor about changes to your medication routine before allergy season starts.
  • Other strategies for controlling allergens include:

  • Avoid exercise or any physical exertion when air pollution levels are high.
  • Talk to your doctor about immunotherapy for allergens that are most persistent.
  • Avoid aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relievers if you have a known sensitivity to these drugs.
  • Be sure your doctor knows the details of what you do at work. Do not overlook the effect of work, hobbies, and recreation as causes of asthma symptoms.

    Get a Yearly Flu Shot

    You are at a higher risk for flu-related complications, such as pneumonia , because you have asthma. Adults and children older than 6 months old should get a yearly flu shot .

    When to Contact Your Doctor

    Stay in contact with your doctor between visits, especially if your symptoms are changing. Whether you stay in contact over the phone, through email, or through your doctor's website, good communication can help you stay out of the hospital and have better control of your asthma.

    If you are having a mild to moderate asthma attack and your medication does not work in the time it is supposed to, call your doctor. If you are having a severe asthma attack, take your asthma medication and get emergency medical help right away.