In this piece I thought that I would share some of my own personal hints and tips on surviving severe asthma. I’m not going to list the usual stuff that all asthmatics (should) know, things such as having an asthma action plan, wearing a scarf when going out in cold weather and checking your peak flows. Instead I am going to describe a few things that I do to help me do battle with my asthma, I find that they help me but obviously they may not be for everybody.
1. Rather than wearing a scarf when going outside in the cold weather I always wear a snood, I find that snoods offer more warmth and protection to the nose and mouth and are much more comfortable.
2. When suffering from a tight chest I often reach for my heat pack, the type that you heat up in the microwave for a couple of minutes, the heat just helps take the edge off of the chest tightness. A hot water bottle works just as well.
3. When having difficulty breathing I always try to listen to music and try to breathe in time to the the beat. My personal favourite is Umbrella by the Manic Street Preachers (acoustic version). It is a cover version of the Rihanna hit from a few years back.
4. Carry an ‘Asthma wallet’ with you, this is something that I have written about previously and mine is a small leather credit card holder with about a dozen plastic inserts. I then make cards to go inside the inserts, one will list my personal details, one lists my medical conditions, one will detail my asthma action plan, another lists my current medication, I also list details of my symptoms (i.e. Not always wheezing) and what treatment usually works. I find that this helps paramedics and A & E staff, especially if I am struggling to talk.
5. Don’t bottle things up, if you are worried and stressed it won’t help your asthma, talk to family or friends, if you find it hard to talk to family and friends speak to fellow asthmatics, there are loads of us all over social media, there are lots of asthma groups on Facebook, there is the Asthma UK forum and there is always your asthma nurse. If all else fails you could even get things off your chest by writing your own blog!
6. When purchasing a nebuliser always by from a reputable seller such as your pharmacy or somebody like Evergreen, do not buy from E-Bay, they are usually inferior and not reliable. If you spend £25 you will get a cheap and nasty nebuliser that is not likely to be up to the job. Accessories and replacement parts are also likely to be more difficult to get hold of.
7. Make use of modern technology, use your mobile phone to store copies of your asthma action plan and list your medication and medical conditions. Download an app that allows you to record your peak flow readings. All this data can then be shown to a doctor during an emergency or during routine appointments.