Asthma – Self Care
Asthma is a lung disease in which a person’s muscles tighten, causing airways to narrow or become inflamed.
This restricts the potential level of oxygen that can reach the lungs and therefore causes difficulty in breathing. Wheezing, tightening of the chest, coughing and shortness of breath are all symptoms that can arise when an attack occurs.
Although asthma is a chronic disease that cannot be cured, certain factors can encourage the onset of or worsen an attack. Effective self care can ease these factors to prevent frequent attacks that could result in a visit to A&E or become fatal.
Asthma can flare up at any time and, even when you feel fine, it is important to remember that it is still present. It is therefore important that those who do suffer from the disease are able to recognise and control their symptoms as early as possible.
What can you do to improve your care?
Smoking is a major factor in increasing the severity of an asthma attack, by irritating the airways further. This can, in some cases, lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Smoking in your younger years can influence the continuation of asthma symptoms throughout adulthood. In order to reduce your symptoms, smoking is therefore not encouraged. If smoking is already a factor in your life, stopping smoking is advised.
Often the onset of an asthma attack is associated with exercise – however, whilst exercise can cause an attack, an active lifestyle is not discouraged. A slow start, gradually increasing your levels of exercise will help your lungs cope better. An exercise programme designed around your level of fitness and level of asthma will identify appropriate activities and the correct levels of exercise. Your GP can refer you to the 12 week Activate scheme which introduces you to physical activity and shows you the benefits of regular exercise.
A form of moderate exercise that is not too physically demanding is walking. Our Community Map will show a range of walks and walking groups in the local area and of course, the borough has a number of leisure services for all ages to choose from.
Creating ‘asthma friendly’ environments
If you are able to familiarise yourself with certain environmental factors that trigger your asthma or make it worse, then it is encouraged that you are as free from these as possible. The following allergens could trigger your asthma.
- Animal fur- keep pets with fur out of your main living area (eg. bedroom or living room), maintain a clean house in order to reduce the amount of allergens and maintain a regular grooming or bathing pattern.
- Dust mites- keep carpets, bedding, furnishings and toys as clean as possible in order to reduce dust mites. De-humidifers dry out the air, making it difficult for dust mites to survive. They also keep the air fresh and reduce other allergens circulating your home and can help to decrease mould spores, which can affect airways.
- Exposure to pollens or air pollution might make your asthma worse. If so, try to limit time outdoors when the levels of these substances in the outdoor air are high.
Stress is a trigger of asthma attacks. It is, therefore, important that you reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Ways in which you can do this include undertaking regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, reducing your alcohol intake, avoiding smoking), ensuring organisation in your day and maintaining a good balance between work and leisure.
Reducing risk of colds and flu
It is important to maintain a high level of hygiene (eg. regularly washing hands and avoiding touching your face with your hands). Avoid close contact with people who have a cold or flu and avoid crowds during the flu season. It is also recommended that you get a flu vaccination yearly as a form of prevention. These are available at your local GP or in particular pharmacies in Bracknell.
Having an asthma check up
It is strongly advised that if you have asthma then you go and have your free asthma check up. It is important to have a test once a year. This test includes an inhaler technique check and an asthma control test with the option to sign up to a medicine use review to help ensure that medicine is taken correctly. The test is free and is available at all Lloyds pharmacies. A list of your local Lloyds pharmacies can be found in the contact details section below.
Contact details for local services
- Bracknell Forest Stop Smoking Support – Various local and online support groups (see health.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/stop-smoking for more information). Tel: 01344 355218 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Activate Health Scheme – The Activate Office, Bracknell Leisure Centre, Bracknell RG12 9SE | Tel: 01344 482255 | Email: email@example.com
- East Berkshire Ramblers’ Group – Membership and Recruitment Contact: Neil Adamson | Tel: 01753 776627 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bracknell Leisure Centre – Bagshot Road, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 9SE | Tel: 01344 454203 | Email: email@example.com
- Slimming World | Tel: 0844 897 8000
- Lloyds Pharmacy (Town Centre) – Portacabin At 3 Market Place, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 1DT | Tel: 01344 489188
- Lloyds Pharmacy – 8 Rectory Row, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 7BN | Tel: 01344 421755
- Lloyds Pharmacy (Great Hollands) – 6 Great Holland Square, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 8UX | Tel: 01344 420293
- Lloyds Pharmacy – 97 Liscombe, Birch Hill Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 7DE | Tel: 01344 423828
- Lloyds Pharmacy (Binfield) – Terrace Road North, Binfield, Berkshire RG42 5JG | Tel: 01344 868486
- Lloyds Pharmacy (Crowthorne) – 12 Dukes Ride, Crowthorne, Berkshire RG45 6LT | Tel: 01344 772432