I was 2 years old when my first asthma attack shocked my tiny little body into collapse. I was on a daily walk with my mom when I just stopped and sat down because I couldn’t breathe. I don’t remember the episode, but my mom can recount it like it was yesterday. How frightening it must’ve been to see her tiny little person gasping for hair and turning different shades of red and blue. I was diagnosed with asthma that day, and sent home with a nebulizer machine, albuterol treatments, and a referral to an asthma specialist.
Over the next several years, I struggled as a child to be able to play and keep up with other kids. For a long time, I was able to pull off sports and running around, only having to use the machine or inhaler occasionally when I pushed too hard or it got too cold. In my teens and early 20’s, I was in great health and it looked like my asthma had gone away completely. Unfortunately, in my mid-20’s, I had another attack, the first after many years.
Signs and Triggers of Asthma
Asthma is more common in children, but can come on in adulthood too. Early signs of asthma include, but are not limited to:
- Frequent coughing, especially when lying down
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness and pressure
- Constantly tired and trouble sleeping
- Difficulty keeping up with other children, or difficulty doing normal activities like climbing stairs or exercise.
An asthma trigger is anything that brings on an attack. Mine is triggered by cold weather and heavy exercise. Other triggers could include pollen, dust, heat, smoke, cockroaches, pet dander, and illnesses.
Coping with Asthma
Below are some tips I learned dealing with asthma.
1. Pacing yourself or your child will be the key. Know the physical limits.
2. Talk to people who have asthma, or join a group for support. They can offer tips and home treatment options that don’t include pharmaceuticals.
3. Don’t get discouraged. Living with asthma means there will be physical limits. Focus on the things you can do, rather than the things you can’t.
4. Know what herbs, foods, and teas could help dilate airways. Know what triggers the attacks so you can better reduce exposure.
5. Avoid the triggers. Don’t be ashamed to ask someone to stop smoking, or refuse to go to someone’s house if it’s too dusty.
Mayo Clinic Asthma Basics
CDC Asthma Triggers