Almost three million Canadians and more than 300 million people worldwide have asthma, including many top athletes. Asthma is a common chronic lung disease that can make it difficult to breathe. Although there is no cure for asthma, those with the condition can live healthy, active lives if their asthma is under control.
For World Asthma Day (May 5th), the Canadian Lung Association has some helpful tips for people with asthma.
1. Know your triggers and avoid them
Triggers like allergens and irritants can make your asthma symptoms worse by irritating your airways. The best way to control your asthma is to know what your asthma triggers are and how to avoid them.
2. Take your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor
Many people think they can skip their asthma preventer (controller) medications when they don't feel any symptoms – that's not true. Asthma is a chronic (long-term) disease. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, even when you don't feel symptoms. You have to manage your asthma every day, not just on days when you feel symptoms. Read more about asthma medications and how to use them.
3. Learn how to use your inhaler properly
Your health-care provider can show you how to use your inhaler properly so that your medicine reaches the airways. Ask him or her to watch you useyour inhaler. Your health-care provider may offer suggestions on how to improve your technique so that the medication gets to your airways. Watch our videos on how to properly use your inhalers.
4. Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
If you smoke and have asthma, you should quit smoking as this can significantly reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Smoking can also reduce the effectiveness of asthma medication. If you have asthma but don’t smoke, avoid being exposed to second-hand smoke because this may trigger worsening of your symptoms.
5. Keep fit by exercising
Exercise helps by strengthening your breathing muscles, boosting your immune system and helping to keep a healthy body weight. The key to exercising safely is to make sure your asthma is under control before you start. Learn more about exercise and asthma.
6. Be in control, get an asthma action plan
Because asthma symptoms are variable – they can get worse or better, depending on many things – you need to know how to adjust your medicines depending on your symptoms and when to seek medical help. Work with your healthcare provider to create a personalized asthma action plan for you.
7. Don’t go viral!
Viruses like the cold and flu can infect people's airways and lungs. Viral infections are a common cause of asthma symptoms. If you avoid catching viruses, you will have fewer asthma symptoms. Here are some ways to avoid viruses:
- Wash your hands properly and often.
- Get the flu shot.
- Ask your health-care provider if you should get the pneumonia shot.
- Get enough sleep. If you are well rested, you may be less likely to have symptoms from a virus.
- If you have a viral infection like a cold or the flu, pay attention to your symptoms. If your symptoms are getting worse, follow the directions in your asthma action plan.
If you or someone you love has asthma, you may have questions. For information on lung health issues, call us toll-free at 1-866-717-2673. In Quebec, call us toll-free at 1 800-POUMON-9.
About the Canadian Lung Association
Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada’s oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Canadian Lung Association