Asthma Treatment

Know Your Asthma

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a long-term disease where your airways become inflamed and narrow, making it harder to breathe. This can cause chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.

It’s affects all ages, but is usually diagnosed in kids. More than 25 million people have it.

Your airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When the airways react to an allergen, the muscles around them tighten, which limits the air getting into the lungs.

Cells in the airways can also make more mucus in this situation, which further makes it hard to breathe.

And once this has all happened, it’s easy for things like stress or activity to make it even worse. Asthma’s symptoms are in many ways, a chain reaction.

There is no cure for asthma, but there are great forms of treatment, including meds, nebulizers, and inhalers. These let you prevent and treat attacks right away to prevent a more serious attack, which can require emergency care.

Your Asthma

Everyone’s is a little different. Many things create the recipe, or chain reaction, for your asthma. Your age, triggers, allergens in your environment, weight, overall health, where you live, and which meds you’re taking can all matter.

Common Triggers

  • Acid Reflux
  • Allergies
  • Bad Weather
  • Certain Foods
  • Certain Medicines
  • Cold or Dry Air
  • Exercise
  • Food Additives
  • Fragrances
  • High Humidity
  • Infections from Flu, Cold, or Virus
  • Pets
  • Strong Emotions or Stress

Common Allergens

  • Chemicals
  • Cockroach Allergens
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Outdoor Air Pollution
  • Smoke from Burning Outdoors
  • Tobacco Smoke

Your allergies especially affect your asthma. Your runny nose, sniffling, and sneezing can actually start that chain reaction. And by treating them, you can actually improve your asthma.

Treatment

Everyone with asthma should have an Asthma Action Plan that they make with their doctor. It’s a personalized plan that has:

  • The kinds of medicine you’ll take
  • When you’ll take it
  • How you’ll manage it long-term
  • How you should handle attacks
  • How you’ll manage your allergies
  • When you should go to your doctor or the ER

Even though each person will have a different set of things that cause their symptoms, asthma medicine categories are the same for everyone.

Combinations and doses vary, but most people with asthma have 2 kinds of meds, a quick-relief one in case of a flare-up and a long-term controller they take daily.

Types of Meds

Medicine Category

What It Does

Examples

Long-Term Control

This is your most important med. When taken daily, these help control symptoms and prevent attacks. Skipping doses raises your risk of attack.
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene Modifiers
  • Long-Acting Beta-Agonists (LABAs)
  • A Combination Inhaler with a Corticosteroid and an LABA

Quick-Relief or Rescue Meds

Take these as needed to quickly treat an attack and to prevent attacks from exercise. If you’re using these more than 2x a week, tell your doctor. Short-Acting Beta-Agonists:

  • Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
  • Metaproterenol (Alupent, Metaprel)
  • Pirbuterol (Maxair)
  • Bitolterol (Tornalate)
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex)

Oral Steroids:

  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Methylprednisolone

Allergy-Induced Asthma

Take these daily or as needed to control allergies, like pollen, mold, grass, etc.
  • Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
  • Omalizumab (Xolair)

Info via National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Your Action Plan

Make sure you have the answers to these important questions in your action plan:

  • What are the names of my medicines?
  • What does each one do?
  • What are their side effects?
  • What can I do to decrease their side effects?
  • Will they work with other drugs, vitamins, food, and drinks?
  • How much is a dose of each?
  • When is the best time to take each? With breakfast, before bed, or with symptoms?
  • How long do I have to take them?

Things You Can Do

You should also work with your doctor or our disease management program to make sure you know how to use your inhaler and flow meter.

Keeping track of your triggers and taking care of yourself can also help:

High Blood Pressure and the Hot Tub

High Blood Pressure and the Hot Tub

For people with high blood pressure, soaking in a hot tub or sitting in a sauna to relax has always been discouraged. But there’s good news for you if you want to soothe your aching muscles.

Getting Back in the Hot Tub

The American Heart Association recently announced that people with high blood pressure who have no symptoms should tolerate saunas and hot tubs well. The relaxing of the blood vessels associated with the heat is only roughly the same as from a brisk walk.

However, if you’re experiencing any active symptoms that would cause you to avoid moderate exercise, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, you should not use a hot tub or sauna.

Anyone taking medication should also consult their physician before using a spa.

Hot Tub Tips

If your doctor okays your use of hot tubs and saunas, remember these tips.

Limit your use to no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

It’s normally recommended that you don’t use hot tubs for longer than this without getting out to cool off. You can always cool off and then re-enter if you want, but if you enjoy the heat for much longer than that, your body may feel feverish.

Never drink alcoholic beverages before or during spa use.

Alcohol can make you drowsy, and nodding off in the hot tub is extremely dangerous.

Don’t move back and forth between cold baths and saunas or hot tubs.

This can raise your blood pressure much more.

Salt and Your Heart

Cutting Back on Salt for Your Heart

Salt’s Effects

You’ve no doubt heard that salt’s bad for you. While the truth is your body needs salt, too much can be very bad for you.

On average, Americans eat  4,000-5,000 mg of salt every day, and your body only needs about 500 mg a day. That’s a big difference. One that can be a big problem if you have high blood pressure.

And it’s not just about what you add to your food. 75% of your sodium intake comes from processed foods. Salt adds flavor and keeps things fresh, so food manufacturers use a lot of it.

A study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, found a high-salt diet may decrease how well meds used to treat high blood pressure work.

So, if you’re currently taking meds for or have high blood pressure, a low-salt diet could help them work.

Clean Up Your Diet

While you might want to talk to your doctor before you drastically cut back on salt, there are a lot of things you can do yourself to cut back that are good for you no matter what.

  • Stop buying heavily processed foods like corn oil and soda.
  • Shop around the outside edge of the grocery store and you’ll hit all the spots with the freshest foods.
  • Read food labels. Those with fewer and simpler ingredients are best. The longer the list, the more room there is for chemicals, sugar, salt, and oils.
  • Cook more at home. Restaurants, especially chains, use heavily processed foods.
  • Train your tongue. If you are used to salt, sugar, and fat, you’ll need time to appreciate the flavor of natural foods.
  • Add other seasonings and flavors to keep your meals delicious and interesting:
    • Allspice: Look for a low- or no-sodium options for seasoning meats, gravy, and even tomatoes.
    • Almond Extract: Great for puddings, desserts, and fruit.
    • Basil: Sprinkle on some fresh or dried basil to add a kick to fish, lamb, salads, soups, and sauces.
    • Chives: Add a light onion flavor to salads, sauces, sides, and soups.
    • Garlic: Fresh garlic is good for you and very flavorful.
    • Ginger: Try this on chicken and fish.
    • Lemon Juice: Make your lean meats and fish pop.
    • Dry Mustard:  Add to meat, marinades, homemade salad dressings, and veggies.
    • Onion Powder: Good for marinades, meat, and veggies.

Eating a low-sodium diet can be easy and delicious, it just takes a little planning and great recipes. Visit our Pinterest to find all kinds of healthy recipes you can make at home.

Dividing Your Plate

Dividing Your Plate Into Sections

Dividing your plate into sections to make sure you choose healthy foods and use proper portions is the key to managing your diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and your diet.

Dividing Your Plate

According to the American Diabetes Association, a good way to plan your meals is by dividing your plate into 3 sections.

Use an imaginary line and cut your plate in half. Divide one of the halves into two to create the three different zones.

For Breakfast

  • The large section is for fruit, fresh if possible.
  • Whole grain cereals or whole grain toast go into one of the smaller sections.
  •  Eggs, Greek yogurt, or lean breakfast meats go into the other small section.

For Lunch and Dinner

  • The large section is for non-starchy vegetables like carrots, spinach, broccoli, and green beans.
  • Starchy foods such as whole-grain bread, rice, or potatoes go into one of the smaller sections.
  •  Lean meat or meat substitutes go into the other small section.

Keeping portions in mind when managing your diet can have a significant effect on your health.

Deciphering Diabetes Questions

Diabetes Questions and Answers

There’s a lot of information out there about your diabetes and what you should and shouldn’t do, so it’s only natural that you have diabetes questions.

The truth is that there’s really nothing you can’t do or eat. The key is moderation, along with a well-balanced meal plan and exercise.

Diabetes Questions Answered

These common diabetes questions can help you get answers.

Q: Is there a cure for diabetes?

A: Sue Kirkman, senior vice president of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), said there is no cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But if you eat right, you can help control your disease.

Q: Do people with diabetes have to be on a special diet?

A: Once upon a time, people with diabetes had to follow super-strict diets. Now, we know that following a balanced diet will help with your diabetes. A balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, dairy, and small amounts of good fats, like nuts and avocados.

Q: If I have diabetes, do I need to avoid foods that are high in carbs, like pasta and bread?

A: Carbohydrates are an important past of a well-balanced diet. A person with diabetes should consume around 3 to 4 servings of carbs per day. Whole-grain foods are especially good for you. They’re high in fiber, which has many health benefits. Of course, carbs aren’t something you should binge on, but they definitely should be a part of your diet.

Q: What about sweets?

A: Again, you shouldn’t eat an entire box of Milk Duds at the movie theater, but chocolate and other sweets aren’t off-limits. Just keep it under control and enjoy small portions. And fruit is a great option when you’re craving something sweet. You can also check a diabetes cookbook to find healthy and delicious desserts you’ll love.

Q: Can caffeine raise my blood sugar?

A: You probably won’t see a major spike in your blood sugar levels. But if you have Type 2 diabetes, drinking caffeine, especially after meals, can affect your blood sugar. Studies have shown that the amount of caffeine in two cups of black coffee can cause a noticeable rise in your blood sugar levels. If managing your levels is hard, less caffeine might be a good first step for you.

Q: Is there an insulin pill?

A: The ADA says an insulin pill is not coming soon. But, shots aren’t your only choice. There are also patches that you stick to your stomach for an easy dose of insulin.

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Vacations are always exciting and relaxing, unless you aren’t prepared for traveling with asthma and allergies.

Don’t let them stand in your family’s way. By carefully getting ready ahead of time, you can make sure you have smooth travels.

Preparing for Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Having a great trip starts when you’re planning. When you’re looking at destinations and hotels for your family, you may want to find a PURE hotel room. Hotels across the country are adding these hypoallergenic rooms.

From installing air purifiers to ripping out dust-filled carpets and drapes, these rooms have been overhauled to be allergy-friendly. You may pay a little extra (about $20 more), but by getting rid of allergens and surprise asthma flare-ups, a PURE room can make your trip an easy one.

And don’t forget to make sure you have enough of current prescriptions ahead of time. With some things, you can stock up in advance. For others, you may have to take your prescription with you and get it filled on the road. Make sure you also know which pharmacies your plan covers before getting a prescription filled there.

Keep a document that lists all of the medicines and supplies you’re traveling with. Not only can it help you pack before leaving home or the hotel, but you can also show it to security agents at airports to help them check your supplies quickly.

Packing for Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

According to the TSA, you can pack your meds or nebulizer in your carry-on for your flight.

It’s important to pack both your quick-relief and controller meds in your carry-on so that you can treat or prevent an attack on the flight. Plus, if your checked bag gets lost, at least your asthma’s still taken care of.

Keep medications in their original containers, and keep them in a separate, clear plastic bag. This makes it easy for security to check what kind of meds you have and that they’re yours.

Pack copies of your Asthma Action Plan which has important info about your asthma that can help those traveling with you and the people you visit if something should happen.

Use your list to make sure you’ve packed everything you need to take care of your asthma.

Take your Health Alliance member ID card in case you need to visit a doctor while you’re out of town.

If you aren’t getting a PURE room, pack your own bedding, like any special pillows, sheets, or bed covers.

If your kids are traveling without you, it’s important to both help them pack their meds, and to make sure they have their emergency plan and important numbers, like your phone number, handy when traveling.

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Once you’re at the airport, the key to a smooth flight is communication.

Make sure you tell the security officers you are traveling with asthma meds or a nebulizer, which they will have you take out of your case.

Use a phone, an app, or a watch that can stay on your home time zone, so you can keep track of when you should be taking medicine on your normal schedule. It’s easy to get distracted on vacation, so alarms are also an easy way to remind yourself at the right time.

Once you’re on your flight, if you feel sick and need help, a drink, or to get your carry-on quickly, it can help if you let your flight attendant know what’s happening. They can help you better and faster if they know it’s important for your asthma.

When you’re driving, fresh air sounds like a great idea, but you never know what allergens are in it. Drive with the windows up and the air on to keep triggers out. And, keep your meds close, not in the trunk!

After Arriving

Once you’ve made it to your hotel, it’s a good idea to make sure your supplies are still organized after traveling. You should also make sure your room is clean, and change your bedding if you brought it with you.

Try to plan activities that won’t stress your asthma or put you in contact with too many allergens, and make sure you’re ready to carry your inhaler, just in case.

And don’t forget to take time to relax and refuel for a vacation to remember!

Exercise for Your Arthritis

Help for Arthritis Sufferers

50% adults will develop arthritic knees in their lifetime. That’s a huge number of arthritis sufferers. With that large number comes an equally large number of remedies and therapies in the marketplace.

No one therapy will be effective for everyone though, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a winning combination right away. It may take some time.

There are 2 main options arthritis sufferers can try.

Change Your Lifestyle for Arthritis

  • Too much weight can cause added pressure on knees. Losing only 10 pounds can remove 40 pounds of pressure on your knees.
  • Aerobic activity keeps these joints flexible, while strength training can strengthen the supporting muscles.
  • Supportive devices like canes, crutches, or walkers can help take weight off painful hips. Splints and braces can restrict movement, which helps limit your pain.
  • Adjust your positioning frequently. Try not to stay in one position for an extended period. Periodically tilt your neck from side to side, change the position of your hands, and bend and stretch your legs.
  • Hot and cold treatments can relax muscles and reduce pain and swelling.

Manage Arthritis Pain with Medication

  • Over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol can be used when other methods don’t provide enough relief.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Ibuprofen, Motrin, or Aleve are the next step in pain relief. These medications offer a pain reliever with an anti-inflammatory built in.
  • Topical treatments like creams and gels may help joint pain close to the surface of the skin, like fingers and toes.
  • Injections of steroids or cortisone by a doctor are an effective way to relieve moderate to severe swelling in the knees and hips.
  • Opioid painkillers are strong, but can be addictive.
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