Treating your asthma symptoms at home
The pandemic makes it more important than ever to take asthma symptoms seriously. Those with the chronic condition may develop more severe cases of COVID-19. Karen Brown, MD, medical director of primary care for Northeast Medical Group, recommends patients reach out to their primary care doctor, pulmonologist or other clinician to make sure their asthma is in check.
“Untreated asthma tends to get worse. It’s not just that you feel worse on any day if you’re not treating your asthma, it’s actually that asthma tends to get worse when it is not treated. So treatment is important,” she said.
Here are four tips for managing asthma:
- Practice COVID-19 prevention
Dr. Brown said wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing are still the most powerful tools we have in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Patients with asthma may want to take extra precautions. Avoid large events and gatherings, indoor dining at restaurants and indoor gatherings with unmasked people.
- Treat your symptoms
Common asthma symptoms include coughing or wheezing. Those with mild symptoms may be able to take a medication or low-dose inhaled steroid that coats the airway. Stronger steroids are available for more moderate asthma and injections can help with severe cases.
Regardless of the severity, Dr. Brown said everyone with asthma should carry a rescue inhaler that can relieve symptoms with just a few puffs. Using an inhaler regularly can settle inflammation, helping those with asthma keep their symptoms under control.
- Avoid allergens
Guard against common allergens. In the fall when ragweed is in season, keep windows closed and use an air purifier. If you’re allergic to dust or dust mites, wash bedding regularly and keep your home clean. Other common allergens include cigarette smoke, pets, mold and some cleaning products.
- Reach out for help
If symptoms worsen, ask your doctor for help. Dr. Brown said she often sees people who minimize or even ignore their symptoms.
“They breathe hard when they’re doing things so they stop doing things. And that doesn’t help. That doesn’t make the asthma controlled,” Dr. Brown said. “It just means you’re hiding the symptoms from yourself. So seek advice and make sure you’re getting the best treatment possible.”
Find an NEMG pulmonologist near you.