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Got asthma? Ease the wheeze

If you’re one of the 22 million or so Americans with asthma, you’re well aware of the symptoms: shortness of breath, constant coughing or wheezing or a feeling of tightness in your chest. But are you doing everything you can to control the condition? Try these smart strategies from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program’s latest guidelines:

  • Schedule regular visits to your healthcare provider. Asthma can change over time. Even if your condition seems to be under control, your healthcare provider should monitor you regularly to make sure your treatment is appropriate.
  • Create an asthma action plan. It’s a how-to on taking your medicines, preventing flare-ups, recognizing and treating an attack and seeking emergency care. Download a sample plan at
  • Tame your triggers. Many asthma cases can be traced back to specific allergens such as smoke, pollen, mold, animal dander, feathers, dust, food and cockroaches. What you can do:

    1. Quit smoking and don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home.
    2. Cover mattresses and pillows in special dust mite–proof covers.
    3. Wash bedding and stuffed toys weekly in hot water (over 130 degrees).
    4. Avoid humidifiers, which can make mold and dust mite problems worse.
    5. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent.
    6. Remove carpeting from your bedroom.

  • Treat existing conditions. Seek medical help if you have sinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn) or obstructive sleep apnea; feel stressed or depressed; or are overweight or obese. All can aggravate asthma.
  • Take your medicines as prescribed. Certain medications are better for sudden attacks, while others are meant to control your condition long term. Ask your doctor about all your options.