Because asthma is caused by a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors, it is not always possible to completely prevent it. Several measures, however, can reduce the risk of developing asthma or help people with asthma gain better control of their condition.
Here are some preventative measures:
- Identify and Avoid Triggers: Know your asthma triggers and take steps to avoid them. Common triggers include allergens (pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold), respiratory infections, tobacco smoke, air pollution, strong odors, cold air, and certain medications. Reducing exposure to triggers can help prevent asthma symptoms from worsening.
- Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke: If you are a smoker, quitting smoking can significantly improve asthma symptoms. Additionally, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, as it can worsen asthma and increase the risk of developing asthma in children.
- Maintain Good Indoor Air Quality: Keep your home clean and well-ventilated to minimize exposure to allergens and irritants. Use air purifiers if necessary and keep humidity levels low to prevent mold growth.
- Practice Good Hygiene: Regular handwashing and maintaining good personal hygiene can help reduce the risk of respiratory infections, which can trigger asthma symptoms.
- Vaccinations: Ensuring that you are up-to-date with vaccinations, especially for influenza (flu) and pneumonia, can help prevent respiratory infections that can exacerbate asthma.
- Breastfeeding: For infants, breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of respiratory infections and may have a protective effect against asthma development.
- Identify and Treat Allergies: Allergies and asthma are closely related. If you have allergies, managing them effectively with the help of an allergist can help improve asthma control.
- Regular Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle: Regular physical activity can improve lung function and overall health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and adequate hydration, can support better asthma management.
- Asthma Action Plan: Develop an asthma action plan in consultation with your healthcare provider. This plan outlines steps to take in different situations, such as when to adjust medications, when to seek medical help, and how to manage worsening symptoms.
- Regular Medical Check-ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are essential to monitor your asthma control, make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan, and address any concerns.
How to avoid common asthma triggers
Asthma triggers may be different for everyone. Learning how to avoid them can prevent asthma attacks.
Here are some things you can do to avoid the most common triggers of asthma:
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
- Wear a mask when painting, doing construction work or yard work
- Get your flu shot
- Use HEPA filters in your vacuum, furnace and air conditioner
- Use protective bedding and pillow cases to reduce allergies
- Keep pets out of your home
- Manage stress levels to avoid panic attacks
- See a specialist to identify allergies and learn how to avoid them
- Stay on your prescribed maintenance medicine
What are common medicines or treatments for asthma?
Treatment and medicines depend on how severe your asthma is and how frequently you have attacks.
- If you have mild asthma and less than two asthma attacks per week, your doctor may prescribe a rescue or emergency inhaler (bronchodilator) to use as needed for fast relief.
- If you have more than two asthma attacks per week, your doctor may diagnose you with persistent asthma. They may prescribe a daily medicine like a maintenance inhaler or anti-inflammatory. These prevent asthma symptoms, but may take a few days to start working. It’s also important to keep taking your medicine even if you’re feeling better.
Talk to your doctor if you’re taking your medicine as directed and are avoiding triggers but still have asthma attacks.
Can breathing exercises help asthma?
Especially with stress-induced asthma or asthma symptoms during a panic attack, breathing exercises may help. They give you a tool to calm down while focusing on your breath. Try breathing in and out while slowly counting to ten.
What asthma tests and treatments does Blue Cross cover?
The most common test used to diagnose asthma is a lung function test. Allergy testing can determine potential causes for asthma as well. Call the customer service number on your member ID card to find out if these tests are covered.
Blue Cross also offers case managers and educational mailings for both adults and children to manage asthma. The care management program is free for eligible members, voluntary and confidential. To learn more about the program, call the customer service number on your member ID card.
While prevention of asthma may not always be possible, following these preventive measures and working closely with healthcare providers to manage asthma can help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms and improve overall quality of life.