If you have asthma and live in western Massachusetts, you might be surprised to learn that Springfield has been named the worst place to live for asthma sufferers by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Luckily, Baystate Health pulmonary clinics happen to be the best places to go if you are looking for help controlling your asthma.
If you live in the Springfield area, or are otherwise at risk for asthma, what can you do to ease your breathing problems and stay active?
Dr. Pinto-Plata, a lung specialist at Baystate, shared these tips for breathing better.
1. Work with your doctor to create an asthma action plan.
“One of the most important steps to controlling asthma symptoms is having an asthma action plan,” says Dr. Pinto-Plata.
An asthma action plan is a form that you and your doctor or healthcare provider complete together. It should include:
- What makes your asthma worse (your “triggers”)
- Your symptoms or peak flow measurements
- Medicines you should take when your asthma is under control and your breathing is fine
- Medicines you should take when you’re having problems breathing
- Your emergency contact information
- Your doctor’s name and phone number, and your local hospital
Once you’ve filled in your asthma action plan, keep copies with you, in your home, and in your place of work. Kids should give it to their teacher and school nurse.
Don’t have an asthma action plan? Download one from American Lung Association.
2. See your doctor regularly.
Asthma is a chronic condition. That means symptoms may come and go, but there is no cure. This makes it very important to see your healthcare provider at least every six to 12 months or when your asthma gets worse. This way, your doctor can assess your asthma and adjust your medicine if needed.
“If you notice that you’re having more asthma attacks or you’re waking up at night more often with symptoms, or you’re using your rescue inhaler more than twice a week, it’s time to call your doctor. Your doctor will probably test your breathing, review your medications, and discuss your symptoms. Seeing your doctor before your symptoms get too bad can help keep you out of the hospital,” Dr. Pinto-Plata explains.
3. Take your medicine properly.
“Asthma symptoms can be controlled, but only if you’re taking the right medicine—and taking it properly,” says Dr. Pinto-Plata.
Never be shy to ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist questions about your asthma medicine. You might learn that you’re using your inhaler incorrectly or that there’s a better time to take your controller medicine. Ask your doctor about Baystate’s one-on-one asthma education.
Wondering how to make the most of your visits with your provider? Follow these tips from the American Lung Association.
4. Reduce the triggers around you.
Do you know what causes you to wheeze and cough? It might be mold, air pollution, cigarette smoke, or even certain foods. Once you understand your triggers, find ways to avoid or lessen them.
For example, check the air quality index every day. If pollution looks bad, adjust your plans for the day by limiting your time outdoors.
“The pulmonary team at Baystate Health can help you manage triggers at home, school, and work. We work with local programs such as Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition and Springfield Healthy Homes, which provide resources to community members living with asthma,” Dr. Pinto-Plata explains.
Learn more about asthma care at Baystate Health.