Did you know that you may develop asthma at any age?
Having yourself or your loved ones diagnosed with asthma can be a stressful and scary affair. However, as long as it is well managed, asthma sufferers can manage their asthma symptoms and still carry out usual day-to-day activities without much limitations. We speak to Dr Chiang Wen Chin, president of the Asthma and Allergy Association of Singapore to establish some important facts on asthma and find out how you can better reduce asthma triggers in your home environment.
1. You can develop asthma later on in your life
According to Dr Chiang, asthma may be a condition that develops later in your adulthood. This is known as adult onset asthma. Even though many people develop asthma during childhood, symptoms can in fact appear at any time of your life.
2. You can still do physical activities if you have asthma
Unless you suffer from acute asthma exacerbation, which causes symptoms to worsen progressively, you can still engage in physical activities. With proper training and the right dose of medication, most people with asthma can do any sport they want.
3. You cannot outgrow asthma
Unfortunately, asthma doesn’t simply go away with age. While some peoples’ asthma conditions improve as they grow older, asthma is pretty much present throughout their lives. “Hence, it is crucial to ensure a proper management plan to relieve symptoms and reduce asthma attacks throughout your life,” says Dr Chiang.
4. Asthma is not psychological
Asthma is a physical condition, however, it can be triggered by psychological factors. “In adults, emotional stress can trigger symptoms like shortness of breath or chest discomfort,” says Dr Chiang.
5. You need medication even if you’re not having attacks
You may be familiar with the usual reliever inhaler that provides relief when asthma symptoms like wheezing or tightness in the chest take over. There is also a control inhaler that prevents asthma flare-ups and symptoms from worsening. If prescribed, it should be used whether or not you are displaying any symptoms, and even if you feel like you are doing better, says Dr Chiang.
6. Allergies and asthma are closely related
Allergens can trigger asthma. “One form of asthma is allergic asthma, where allergens cause a reaction because the immune system thinks they are harmful and it responds by releasing a substance called immunoglobulin E,” says Dr Chiang. This triggers inflammation in the lung airways and causes an asthma attack.
There are many factors that may trigger the symptoms of asthma sufferers at home. These are some quick and easy suggestions by Dr Chiang to optimise your living environment to keep asthma attacks and allergies at bay.
- Use an air purifier.
- Wash bed sheets and pillowcases in hot water (>60°C) once a week.
- Avoid having soft, furry toys on the bed.
- Avoid having thick curtains in the bedroom
- Clothes and books should be stored in a closed cupboard.
- Use a damp cloth to clean surfaces rather than feather dusters.
- Use a HEPA grade vacuum – it stands for high-efficiency particulate air meaning the vacuum can capture ultra-fine particles.
- Air-conditioners should be cleaned regularly.
- Cover your mattresses and pillows with anti-dust mite covers.
And if you are allergic to pet dander:
- Wash your hands immediately after petting any animals and wash your clothes after visiting friends with pets.
- If you have a pet at home, keep it out of the bedroom.
- Replace carpeting with hardwood, tile or linoleum, all of which will not trap pet dander.